Seagull causes widespread power outage

A seagull caused nearly 3,000 Nanaimo homes and businesses, mostly in the downtown area, to go without power for 90 minutes Tuesday shortly after 5 p.m.

A seagull caused nearly 3,000 Nanaimo homes and businesses, mostly in the downtown area, to go without power for 90 minutes Tuesday

B.C. Hydro spokeswoman Karla Louwers said the bird inadvertently flew into the power lines shortly after 5 p.m., tripped the system which caused electrical arcing, and caused burning which brought down a live line at Skinner and Bastion streets.

“Once the wire went down the entire feeder went out,” said Louwers.

The affected area ranged from west of Front Street to north of Nanaimo Lakes Road, and east of Twiggley Wiggley Road and south of Highland Boulevard.

Power was out from 5:10 p.m. and was restored by BC Hydro crews at 6:40 p.m.

Louwers said birds – especially seagulls and crows – often fly into hydro lines causing some tripping in the system but it is rare for a wire to burn and fall to the ground.

The downed line was reported to B.C. Hydro by Nanaimo Fire Rescue, which received a 911 call. No one were hurt in the incident.

According to B.C. Hydro’s website, there have been 10 other instances of birds tripping hydro system in Nanaimo so far in July. Most of those outages affect less than 20 homes and businesses and are repaired swiftly.

Louwers said Tuesday’s incident serves as a reminder to call 911 or 1-800-224-9376 if a downed power line is discovered and to stay at least 10 metres away. If within that range, shuffle or hop, don’t walk, until a safe distance away.