A bizarre set of circumstances killed Tofino’s power for roughly seven hours on Jan. 18.
A truck driver was turning off Yew Rood Road onto Campbell Street when a crane attached to his truck got caught on a Telus cable. Seemingly unaware of the snag, the driver continued his turn, causing a Hydro pole attached to the cable to come crashing down.
“The crane boom had not been properly retracted before the vehicle went mobile,” said Const. Chad Kisby of the Tofino RCMP. “This, in turn, caused the crane boom to snag on an overhead power line and pull a power pole down in the process.”
He said the driver escaped the vehicle unharmed and no bystanders were injured in incident, which occurred around 11:30 a.m.
He said that the driver received a violation ticket under the Motor Vehicle Act, but would not speak to the specifics of the violation.
He added neither drugs nor alcohol were factors in the accident.
Members of Tofino’s Volunteer Fire Department arrived at the intersection quickly to keep pedestrians away from the downed cables and direct traffic safely through the area.
“We’re keeping the flow of traffic moving and making sure everybody maintains a safe distance from the lines that are down,” Tofino Fire Chief Brent Baker told the Westerly at the scene.
Hydro crews arrived at the scene around 12:40 p.m. and most Hydro customers saw their power return around 6:30 p.m., according to Hydro spokesperson Karla Louwers.
She said roughly 24 homes remained without power until about 11:30 p.m. due to damaged underground cables that took longer to repair.
“On either side of that pole that was knocked down, the lines that came down with it needed to be replaced and restrung,” she said. “Once they got the pole replaced, and the lines restrung, they were able to restore power to most of the community and then work on the underground portion that was damaged.”
The cost of the damage was not known but Louwers said ratepayers would not be footing the bill.
“We’ll work with the individual, or their insurance company, to recover the costs associated with the equipment and the labour,” she said.
She said that, while the Telus line the crane got snagged on was lower than the Hydro cables above it, it was above the minimum height standard Hydro follows and would not have been pulled down if the truck’s driver had remembered to lower the crane.
Louwers urges anyone who sees a downed line to stay at least 10 metres away and call the police immediately.
“If you are in a vehicle, and in contact with our equipment, you should stay inside of the vehicle unless you absolutely must get out,” she added.