BC Hydro found itself confronting two unusual power situations on Vancouver Island over the weekend, one involving a promotional balloon, the other involving charge buildups caused by missing ground wires.

Almost 2,000 customers in Duncan lost power Sunday morning after a car dealer's promotional balloon got loose, and snagged itself in a power line.

The outage, which stretched through central Duncan, lasted for about an hour while crews cut the rogue balloon's line, untangled the rest, and restored service.

Copper ground wires stolen

A more serious situation developed on the west side of the island at the Ditidaht First Nation's Malachan reserve, where BC Hydro received complaints of random electric shocks happening inside, and outside village homes.

Nick Labadie, a field operations manager for BC Hydro, said crews cut power to the 240 residents of the village Friday afternoon after crews investigating the complaints found that thieves had stripped the copper grounding wires from close to 300 poles.


Terry Edgar, a Ditidaht councillor and public works manager, said appliances were shocking people, and children were playing with a charged fence at the elementary school. (CBC)

Terry Edgar, a Ditidaht councillor and public works manager, said the situation was a disaster waiting to happen.

"People have been getting shocked when they touch metal appliances... you get it on your taps at home sometimes, you can get it while you're doing your laundry," he said.

But the shocks were also outside, coming off some fences, including one at the elementary school where children were daring each other to hold onto the charged fence the longest.

48.809125,-124.669518Malachan Indian Reserve, Nitinat Lake

"Kids are trying to play games out of it, not knowing the hazards that are here. And, you know, we have gas station lines underground here that may be charged, you have propane lines that may be charged, you have no idea," Edgar said.

Hydro crews are replacing the stolen copper wire with wires made from an alloy that's tougher to cut, and worthless on the scrap metal market.

BC Hydro estimated it would have power restored to the Ditidaht First Nation Sunday evening.

The RCMP is investigating the thefts.