Two major power outages caused roughly 12,000 homes and businesses to go dark Monday morning. The disruption was spread between Prince George and Barriere, by way of Valemount.
Schools and stores were closed, while food vendors had to take actions to preserve perishables.
The first blackout happened at about 6 a.m. on a transmission line north of Kamloops. According to BC Hydro spokesman Bob Gammer, it was initially thought that lightning hit the line and that may be true but that was not able to be determined when crews did discover the trouble-spot.
What was definite, though, was a cross-arm was broken on a transmission structure servicing the communities of Barriere, Valemount, McBride, Dome Creek and many communities and individuals in between.
"The outage affected about 10,000 customers, not counting McBride," said Gammer. "McBride, you may or may not know, has a backup diesel generator system and when the power went out that system kicked in as designed, so they were not without power."
It took three hours and 20 minutes to get the repairs done allowing the power supply back to the other disrupted communities.
The Prince George problems took longer to resolve. Although lightning did not strike the same place twice, it did hit two spots on the BC Hydro transmission system, causing repair delays. The sky-strikes happened at about 7:20 a.m., plunging everywhere from College Heights to Beaverly into darkness.
"Our crew went about looking for the source of the problem and they eventually realized the whole circuit was out, but also discovered that another lightning strike had hit a switch right at the substation," Gammer said. "This was important because that was the switch they wanted to use to get customers on an alternate circuit, a backup system. So because that was also disabled it took until 12:01 to restore the power."
Gammer said crews are still working on the damage and it will take a couple of days to repair it all. The 2,500 affected customers are on that alternative circuit for now and will be routed back onto the regular system without anyone noticing the switch-over.