Lightning sparks hydro hiccups

NANAIMO - Nearly 1,800 customers without power in Nanaimo region following lightning strikes.

Lightning strikes caused power outages in south Nanaimo on Tuesday morning.

Lightning strikes caused power outages in south Nanaimo on Tuesday morning.

More than 1,800 customers were left in the dark following lightning strikes Tuesday morning.

The biggest area affected was in Cinnabar Valley, Chase River and Extension where more than 1,600 homes and businesses were rendered powerless due to a line down. B.C. Hydro crews were on that scene making repairs by about 9:30 a.m.

Several other trouble spots included the Benson Meadows and Jingle Pot Road area with 157 customers without electricity, three small outages near Labieux Road and Departure Bay, plus 25 customers without power on Stz’uminus First Nation land near Kulleet Bay in Ladysmith.

Karla Louwers, B.C. Hydro spokeswoman, said sometimes it’s hard to prove lightning is responsible for power blackouts.

“But I think it’s safe to assume that the outages we’re seeing today are all the result of the lightning,” Louwers said.

She said B.C. Hydro crews have been busy since early morning repairing the power grid.

“When lightning strikes our lines it causes stray voltage, so to protect people’s equipment, that’s why you’ll see an outage because if it doesn’t do damage, it will often blow a fuse on the line so that stray voltage doesn’t travel to people’s homes,” Louwers said.