Nearly 2,000 Fort St. John residents were left in the dark for three hours due to a downed power line on Tuesday.
“There was an electrical contact incident that was the cause of the outage,” said BC Hydro spokesperson Bob Gammer. “Apparently a fellow was working on some siding on an apartment building and was in a man-lift and he contacted the line.
“We’re very amazed that he was not injured,” he continued. “Apparently the tires burned off his man-lift.”
The Fort St. John RCMP and fire department both responded to the incident.
“There were no injuries and a small fire was extinguished by the Fort St. John Fire Department,” said Constable John Julyan.
Deputy Fire Chief Curtis Redpath confirmed.
“(The Hydro incident) started a small fire in some hedges alongside of an apartment building,” he said. “Our job was to contain the area and make sure nobody went into the area where the power lines were down.
“When it was safe to do so, by BC Hydro, we put the small little fire out that was left,” Redpath said.
He noted that the fire department was there for nearly two hours.
“Hydro has a process that they take to isolate the area for electricity and then ground everything and make sure it’s safe for us to do our job,” he said. “We just contained it and stayed out of the area until they told us it was safe to go in.”
Gammer said the power went out at about 10:33 a.m. with 1,976 customers affected.
Many of the impacted customers were near the downtown core of Fort St. John. This included busy stoplights along 100th Street.
Police said this caused no additional traffic issues.
“The City…responded by putting up signs at major intersections in town,” said Julyan.
BC Hydro praised the Fort St. John fire department.
Gammer said BC Hydro received great “cooperation” from the fire department.
“We just want to thank the fire department,” he said.
He also said the BC Hydro crew worked “quickly.”
“It’s a three-phase line where this happened, so one of the wires was burned down, so our crew spliced a new wire and got the power restored,” Gammer said.
He said power was restored at 1:24 p.m.
“It’s scary to think about what could’ve happened,” he said. “(It’s) very fortunate that this fellow was not injured.”
Redpath said the investigation into the incident was ongoing by WorkSafe BC.
“They’re investigating why the hydro line came down,” he said.
He said trying to keep the general public out of the impacted area was a “challenge.”
“One issue we had was people in the area didn’t understand that we had a live power line down,” said Redpath. “We (were) trying to deal with the fire and trying to keep people away from a downed power line.
“It was an interesting morning to say the least,” he said.
He noted that within minutes of the Hydro incident, a second fire crew responded to the Quality Inn on 100th Avenue.
“We had alarms ringing there, probably due in portion to the power outage; they also had an issue with an electric motor,” he said. “From what I gathered, they had a bit of an issue with a motor.”
He said they found that there was a little bit of smoke from this motor and they “were able to clear from there” quickly.
“It was a little busy,” said Redpath. “Everyone did extremely well.
“For Hydro, they’re busy all over the place and they responded quite efficiently and helped us out right away so that was a great help,” he said. “They were on scene within a few minutes.”
Gammer said people should always be cautious when near power lines.
“Electricity is so powerful and so fast that there’s just no time to get out of its way.”