TORONTO STAR: "Power failure hits 90,000 in York, Hydro blames freezing rain, not Y2K bug" : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

January 4, 2000

Power failure hits 90,000 in York
Hydro blames freezing rain, not Y2K bug

By Lily Nguyen and Caroline Alphonso
Toronto Star Staff Reporters

A blackout hit York Region last night, leaving tens of thousands of people fumbling in the dark.

Two high-voltage lines which supply power to Richmond Hill Hydro and Vaughan Hydro went down at about 10:50 p.m., blacking out the municipalities, said Al Manchee, a spokesperson for Ontario Hydro Services.

``You're looking at . . . between 50,000 and 90,000 people,'' he said.

``This is very unusual that we have a power outage of this size.''

The cause was believed to be weather-related, he said. ``It may be freezing rain. Evidently there's a lot of freezing rain.''

He also denied what was on everybody's mind.

``No, no Y2K. It's not a Y2K issue.''

Although Manchee could not estimate how long the problem would take to fix, even as he spoke reports filtered in that Richmond Hill was lit up again sometime after midnight.

Power was back in Vaughan after 1 a.m.

York Region police reported an explosion at a tower at Highway 7 and Keele St., just behind Glen Shields Ave. The tower feeds hydro to Richmond Hill and Vaughan.

``The tower went boom,'' said Sergeant Glen Dike. ``It was an explosion. There was a flash of light.''

It happened just before 11 p.m., Dike said. All the power in those areas was off.

``We are just jammed with 911 calls,'' he said.

Residents left in the dark had formulated their own theories.

Vaughan Mayor Lorna Jackson, who was trying to get answers along with other residents who jammed Vaughan Hydro lines, suggested an accident took out a transformer, which converts power from the big lines so it can be fed into houses.

``We've got ice up here now and freezing rain and that always gives us problems with hydro,'' she said.

``You get maybe a car sliding out of control and taking out a transformer.''

One Thornhill resident, who declined to give his name, speculated a lightning storm or Y2K problem had caused the power failure.

``There's been flashes of lightning in the sky and there's been ice rain falling, so it could be an electric storm.

``All of a sudden the power just went, just like that,'' he said. ``The sky looks very dark and we're calling around the whole area and nobody's got power, not in the Thornhill area. We're just lighting candles, and we look at our neighbours and we see candles in a lot of windows.''

In Richmond Hill, the power outage abruptly ended play in the town's old-timers hockey league at Elvis Stojko Arena at about 10:45 p.m.

In one dressing room in the arena at 16th Ave. near Bayview Ave., players huddled around a candle right-winger Joe Candler found in his duffle bag.

``We're like good Scouts,'' noted teammate Dave McCann. ``Always prepared.''

It was pitch black in Richmond Hill and the only lights that could be seen were from car headlights. Lightning lit up the sky and a freezing rain turned into a light rain.

The darkness reached as far north as Elgin Mills Rd.

Lights came back on five minutes after midnight in Richmond Hill.

Roads were turned into a skating rink last night for most of the southern Ontario area.

Many areas reported lots of minor accidents, like fender-benders and cars sliding into ditches.

Areas north of the 401 had freezing rain just after 5 p.m. Toronto just had rain with patches of freezing rain.

[ENDS] With files from Tony Van Alphen

-- John Whitley (, January 04, 2000



-- John Whitley (, January 04, 2000.

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