Official: Power returns to downtown Toronto following major outage
A crane being transported on a barge through the Port Lands made contact with power lines, knocking out power to parts of Downtown Toronto. Photo courtesy of Hydro One/Twitter

Aug. 12 (UPI) — Officials said power has been restored to the core of downtown Toronto after it experience a major outage affecting thousands of customers.

Hydro One, Ontario’s largest electricity provider, confirmed Thursday night that it had restored power to Canada’s largest city’s downtown core where at the outage’s peak saw some 10,000 customers without power.

“We know this power outage has made today exceptionally difficult for many of you, and we appreciate your patience,” David Lebeter, chief operating officer of Hydro One, said in a statement. “We had all available resources helping to restore power as quickly and safely as possible.”

The power outage began at about 12:30 p.m. Thursday when an upright crane being transported through the Port Lands water ways on a barge made contact with high voltage transmissions lines, causing damage to equipment at a nearby power station. Hydro One said protocols state to stay at least 10 feet away from power lines.

The incident cut power to a large swath of downtown Toronto, including traffic lights, causing electric utility Toronto Hydro to warn people to “use caution & treat intersections as four-way stops.”

Toronto Fire Services said that it had to respond to “numerous calls” for people trapped in elevators during the outage.

Minister of Immigration Sean Fraser posted a picture of himself and three others stuck in an elevator to Twitter, stating they had just gotten into the lift when the power when out.

“Still in here,” he said. “Terrible timing.”

The outage had caused Toronto Metropolitan University to issue an evacuation of its downtown campus as a utility failure of this size “may compromise the building’s life-safety systems,” including fire detection and sprinkler systems, it said in a statement.

George Brown College closed all of its St. James and Waterfront buildings and canceled all in-person classes for the day in response, it said.

Mayor John Tory described the outage as having caused “a tremendous disruption” to residents.

“It should hot have happened and I’m thankful this wasn’t a much worse situation,” he said in a statement.

In a separate statement, the city said the outage may have been caused by a subcontractor hired by the main contractor working on the city’s treatment plant.

“The city has launched a full investigation and has requests a full report from the main contractor to understand what happened and what needs to be done to ensure this does not happen again,” it said.

Hydro One said crews will continue to repair the damaged power lines over the coming days.

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