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Hydro crews make progress but power still out for thousands in Fraser Valley

Last Updated Dec 31, 2017 at 9:41 am PDT

BC Hydro crews dealt with frozen equipment due to an ice storm on the BC South Coast (December 30, 2017) (Courtesy @bchydro)
Summary

Storms and freezing rain knocked out power to thousands of customers in the Fraser Valley on Thursday and Friday

At one point, more than 115,000 customers were without power in the Fraser Valley

BC Hydro crews have made significant progress as teams worked through the night to restore power

ABBOTSFORD (NEWS 1130) – It’s been another cold night for many people in the Lower Mainland, who still don’t have electricity.

Thousands of homes and businesses are still without power because of the damage caused by ice storms on Thursday and Friday.

“Crews last night completed extensive repairs to ice-coated equipment at two of our sub-stations, and that restored several thousand customers,” says Tanya Fish with BC Hydro, who explains members had to manually defrost equipment to make repairs. “And some equipment had to be replaced because it was so damaged from the ice.”

To manually defrost equipment, Fish says workers have to tarp the equipment and then run propane heaters to create a sort of “hot tent.”

“For other hard to reach areas, they actually use propane hand-held torches to remove the layers of ice. This is a very labour-intensive job that took many hours to complete, but once certain repairs were complete, we were able to bring back several thousand customers in the Mission and Abbotsford area late last night.”

To give you an idea of how bad damages can be, Fish says there are 40 strands of wire down just on one power line in the Mission area.

Though crews are making progress, we’re not in the clear yet. There’s been a slight jump in the number of outages because of continued challenges.

“The jump in numbers around 9 a.m. was due to a tree falling and knocking out power to about 2,000 customers, so we’re still having ice-loaded branches and trees continue to fall as crews are making repairs just because the temperatures still remain below zero.”

The clear weather did help crews, but Fish admits temperatures didn’t rise as much as had hoped.

“Freezing temperatures remained, which meant that [crews’] equipment didn’t dethaw as much as we were hoping,” she says, adding manual

In total, more than 115,000 BC Hydro customers have lost electricity at some point over the last few days.

Crews have been brought in from Vancouver Island and the Interior to help repair frozen equipment and downed poles and wires. At one point, a helicopter was used to help remove ice which had built up on power lines.

The focus in the Fraser Valley will soon be shifting from restoring power to cleaning up. Cars are covered in ice in many areas from the windshield to the bumper, and tree branches are snapping while trunks are toppling over from the weights of ice build up.

If you see a downed power line, you’re reminded to stay back at least 10 metres — which is the length of a city bus, treat it as an emergency and call 911.