ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – Propane torches are among the tools crews are using to help restore power to thousands of customers still in the dark after ice storms swept through British Columbia’s Fraser Valley.
BC Hydro spokeswoman Tanya Fish said teams have been working around the clock and have restored electricity for about 131,000 people since the first storm hit on Thursday, but about 9,000 others are still without power.
Another storm came Friday, leaving the region coated in thick layers of ice, which snapped tree branches and downed power lines.
Some BC Hydro substations were also frozen solid, with sensitive equipment encased in ice.
Crews finished repairs to the substations Saturday night, but the work took some unusual tools, Fish said.
“To do this crews actually had to manually de-ice frozen equipment using propane heaters and propane torches to melt the ice,” she said.
About 90 teams continued work in the region on Sunday, but Fish said some customers could be facing another night without power.
“Unfortunately, we’re asking customers to prepare for the potential that they will be without power for another night,” she said. “And this is just due to the extensive damage that we’re still continuing to deal with. We still have frozen equipment, broken power poles, downed power lines.”
Freezing temperatures have added to the “incredibly challenging conditions,” Fish added.
“The frozen equipment and the fact that we have the frozen branches falling on our crews and the safety risks that we’ve had to deal with … has been challenging and has slowed our efforts down more than we’d like.”