BC Hydro investigates cause, source of northern B.C. power outage

BC Hydro continues to investigate how a suspected lightning strike wiped out power to 124,000 customers across northern B.C. on Wednesday night.

The outages began around 9 p.m., plunging most everyone north of Clinton into the dark. 

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All power was restored by 11:30 p.m., and lightning is believed to be the cause. It's not known where the strike happened in the system.

"We are investigating how that lightning strike created this large blackout," said BC Hydro spokesman Bob Gammer. "That is the big question today, and that's the work for our engineers."

It's uncommon for a lightning strike to cause such a large power failure, Gammer said.

"We do get hit by lightning in our system on a regular basis," he said.

"Our protective equipment is designed to absorb those strikes and most of the time we don't see anything come of it. But here's an exception." 

Communities including Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Chetwynd, Hudsons Hope, Prince George, Vanderhoof, Smithers, Houston and Burns Lake were affected. Fort Nelson was not affected as it's connected to the Alberta grid, Gammer said.

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

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