BC Hydro named the Interior wildfires as one of the year’s most notable for those in the business of providing power. Angie Mindus photo

BC Hydro lists most notable outages of 2017

Outages caused by wildfires tops the list

In a review of the year’s power outages, BC Hydro has named the Interior wildfires as one of the most memorable.

More than 61,000 customers in the Central and Southern Interior were without power this summer because of the 2017 wildfires, said a BC Hydro spokesperon.

The fires caused damage to 490 power poles, 114 cross arms and 377 spans of wire.

Residents impacted by the fires will recall the urgency for power restoration out west and east of Williams Lake, even while much of the area was under threat of evacuation alerts and orders. BC Hydro crews and contractors worked around the clock to repair the damage and were gifted with food and thanks by appreciative customers.

Other highlights named by BC Hydro include freezing rain and heavy, wet snow which caused more than 360,000 customers in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley to lose power over a six-day period last February.

Animal encounters also topped the list when a beaver gnawed through a tree that fell on a power line, causing the community of Hixon to lose power. A squirrel that chewed through a piece of electrical equipment causing it to catch fire and cut off power to 180 customers in Burnaby – including a local cheese factory – also made the list.

Loose birthday party balloons contacting power lines were to blame for leaving 800 customers in downtown Vancouver without power on a Friday evening, while balloons used to promote a sale at a car dealership on Vancouver Island were also to blame for an outage to the surrounding area after they blew into a primary line.

In the category of human-caused outages, perpetrators cut down power poles with a chainsaw in Prince George to steal copper wire from a transformer. In the south, a tanker ship was attempting to anchor and contacted an underground cable, resulting in an outage to 2,000 customers on the southern Gulf Islands.

“Outages can be unpredictable,” said the spokesperson. “ That’s why BC Hydro encourages customers to be prepared for power outages by having a well-stocked emergency kit that includes a flashlight, extra batteries, first-aid kit, ready-to-eat non-perishable foods and bottled water.“

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