A bear that decided to use a power pole as a backscratcher was the cause of one of BC Hydro’s most memorable power outages of 2019. (Photo credit: Stock image)

Bears, eagles, and humans contribute to memorable 2019 power outages

BC Hydro releases list of memorable power outage causes in 2019

BC Hydro responded to around 50,000 trouble calls in the province in 2019, but some incidents were more memorable than others, as Clinton residents will attest. BC Hydro has compiled a list of its most memorable incidents in 2019 [the list was prepared before the outages following a snowstorm on New Year’s Eve].

Animal encounters

· Itchy bear: Ten customers in Williams Lake were left without power after a bear used a pole as a scratching post. A similar incident occurred near Hope, when an itchy bear rubbed against the side of a house and knocked the meter off the socket.

· That goose is cooked: A bald eagle caused an outage for customers in Clinton when the bird dropped its lunch—a Canada goose—directly on a power line.

· Busy beavers: Beavers harvesting timber for a dam were the culprits behind outages in Dawson Creek and Hazelton, after the trees collapsed onto power lines. Crews in Hixon were able to prevent a similar incident after removing a tree that beavers were attempting to fall.

Household hijinks

· I spy: In an attempt to secretly record activities at a neighbouring property, a customer on Vancouver Island climbed a power pole to affix a security camera to it. BC Hydro crews were alerted and the camera was safely removed.

· Drone groan: A customer in Surrey found out the hard way that flying a drone around power lines in a residential area was a bad idea after it contacted a line, resulting in an outage at their home.

Mother Nature’s fury

· Wind woes: More than 20,000 customers in North Vancouver and West Vancouver lost power in the early morning hours of Nov. 27 after a unique combination of weather events, including a “bomb cyclone”, caused extensive damage to BC Hydro’s system.

Balloon blunders

· Sparks fly: A hot air balloon ride in Vernon was landing when the balloon contacted a power line during its descent. The fabric of the balloon tore free from the line, but the balloon and its passengers landed safely.

· Party (ending) balloons: One of the 52 outages caused by balloons contacting BC Hydro’s equipment was an incident in Richmond on New Year’s Eve, when a bundle of rogue balloons contacted a power line, resulting in an outage to 20 customers.

Risky business

· Not-so-sharp shooter: This past summer, hunters near Stewart used BC Hydro transmission towers for target practice, resulting in an outage for 170 customers and more than $60,000 in damages. Two similar incidents were also discovered on Vancouver Island: one near Coombs and another near Qualicum Beach.

BC Hydro reminds the public that if they are working near power lines, they need to keep themselves and any tools at least three metres—about the length of a four-door car—away from the line. If a member of the public comes across a downed or damaged power line, stay back at least 10 metres—the length of a city bus—and report it to 9-1-1.


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