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Region-wide outage knocks out power to 34,000

Fire department kept busy as power outage triggers alarms, surges
Fire crews responded to more than a dozen calls after transmission issues left many in Dawson Creek without power Tuesday night. Several reported smoke after power surges fried electronics.

More than 34,000 BC Hydro customers were without power after the utility's transmission grid was damaged by what appeared to be a lightning strike.

The outages affected Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Chetwynd and Tumbler Ridge. 

Most of the outages happened around 6:15 p.m. and appeared to be caused by a lightning strike.

“That would be the early indication,” spokesperson Bob Gammer said, adding that he did not have any other details.

By 7:30 power had been restored to most customers in Fort St. John, Dawson Creek and Chetwynd, BC Hydro spokesperson Simi Heer said. Tumbler Ridge was still without power, and crews were beginning the "slow process" of switching circuits to "ensure grid stabilization." 

The Dawson Creek Fire Department was kept busy during the outage, as it caused alarms at several businesses and schools to trip. There were also reports of smoke in some homes when power surges fried electronics. 

“Extended power outages will sometimes trigger false alarms, but we have to treat them like the real thing,” Deputy Chief Bob Fulton said. 

Firefighters also responded to several homes that had reported power surges which led to small fires.

“Power surges have caused problems where people haven’t got surge protectors on their electronics,” Fulton said. “You have to consider putting surge protection on all your electronics because they are vulnerable. When (power) comes back on it will give a bit of a hit and it could cause damage.”

— This is a developing story that will be updated as information becomes available.