Rumours circulating across social media that suggest another outage is on the horizon for the West Coast are just rumours, said BCHydro spokesperson Karla Louwers.
BCHydro is not currently planning one, she said in a noon hour interview on Thursday.
â€œAt this time there is no outage scheduled for the West Coast as a result of the fire at Great Central Lake,â€ she said. â€œThereâ€™s rumours of an outage but thereâ€™s no outage scheduled at this time to the West Coast communities.â€
She said customers would be notified if BCHydro determines an outage is needed.
Power was restored early Thursday to the West Coast after tourists and locals spent 18 hours in the dark.
At around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 16, a current transformer attached to the Great Central Lake substationâ€”located about 14 km west of Port Alberniâ€”failed and caught fire, according to Louwers.
â€œThe fire was a result of the equipment failing,â€ she told the Westerly News.
The failure triggered automatic safety mechanisms that shut down the substation and cut off the West Coastâ€™s power supply.
BCHydro had not determined a cause for the incident when Louwers spoke to the Westerly News on Thursday morning.
She said the fire was contained within the substation property and fire crews had it extinguished around 8:30 p.m.
She cited the substationâ€™s tricky-to-access location as a reason the fire was able to burn for roughly seven hours.
BCHydro crews mobilized from several Island locations including Nanaimo and Qualicum and additional staff were brought in from the lower mainland, according to Louwers.
She said these crews waited for the fire to be put out and the equipment to cool down before they were able to create a detour that rerouted power around the damaged transformer.
â€œOur crews worked through the night to prepare the substation to operate without that damaged piece of equipment so they could restore power to the West Coast communities,â€ Louwers said. â€œEssentially they restored power without it going through that (damaged) current transformer.â€
Louwers said BCHydro had initially â€œput the estimated time of restoration at around 11:30 p.m. (Wednesday) night,â€ but a safety concern regarding grounded wires pushed back expectations and power was not restored until Thursday morning.
â€œWe ran into some unforeseen difficulty last night which was why the restoration time was delayed,â€ Louwers said. â€œBefore you can do some work you need to ensure the equipment is isolated and thereâ€™s no possibility that our crewsâ€™ safety could be jeopardized.â€
The power was eventually restored in two phases with most of the West Coastâ€™s lights coming back on around 6:45 a.m. and some BCHydro customers in the Tofino-Long Beach area waiting until around 8:30 a.m., according to Louwers.
â€œIt came on in two phases because we didnâ€™t want to overload the system (by) picking up all the power at once,â€ she said. â€œWe were protecting the integrity of the electrical system.â€
Louwers said the burned-out transformer would be replaced by a new one that was expected to arrive Thursday morning.
She was unable to speak to the cost of the new equipment.
She thanked the West Coastâ€™s locals and tourists for their patience during the outage.
â€œItâ€™s an important part of everyday life so we realize the inconvenience when itâ€™s not there,â€ she said.