Police are now warning thieves of the dangers of targeting electrical cables for valuable copper after the 25-year-old man was admitted to Leeds General Infirmary with serious burns to his face, hands and chest.
It is believed he was injured in an explosion when a saw was used to cut into a live cable carrying 11,000 volts at a bridge over the River Aire in Redcote Lane.
Detective Inspector Richard Partis, of North West Leeds Division, said: “Medical opinion and that of the electricity firm is that this man is very lucky to be alive.
“This incident could very easily have resulted in his death and that of another man who was with him at the time.
“We believe they thought the cable was not live and contained copper that could be sold for scrap.
“This incident should demonstrate to people the risks they are taking targeting electrical cables in this way.
“There is no way of telling by sight if a cable is live or not and the risk of death or serious injury is obviously very high.”
Engineers were immediately called out to the scene and made the damaged cable safe.