Montreal transformer explosion injures two after outage left 40,000 without power

Two electricians are in critical condition after they took it upon themselves to investigate Wednesday's power outage, which left 40,000 homes and businesses around Montreal in the dark.

A Concordia graduation ceremony was forced to go ahead in the dark

Emergency workers said the men suffered burns to their upper body. (Radio-Canada)

Two electricians are in critical condition after they took it upon themselves to investigate Wednesday's power outage, which left 40,000 homes and businesses around Montreal in the dark. 

Montreal police said the two men, who are in their twenties, suffered burns to their upper bodies. Both are employed by Salvitec, an electrical company.

The men were working downtown when the power went out late Wednesday morning, according to Hydro-Québec spokesperson Serge Tsoto. "They decided to see the problem for themselves."

They were in a building at the corner of de Bleury and Ste-Catherine streets when, for reasons that remain unclear, an electrical transformer exploded.

Hydro-Québec is running an audit to determine exactly what happened, Tsoto said. 

The public utility blamed the outage, which affected clients in Montreal and on the South Shore, on a large truck that severed a power line in Brossard.

Power was automatically cut to the network, said Tsoto, as a safety precaution. It was restored to most clients by 3 p.m.

Concordia grad goes dark

The power outage affected Place-des-Arts, leaving a Concordia University convocation in the dark. 

About 30 minutes into the ceremony, as graduates were striding across the stage, the lights went out. But the ceremony continued, after a few adjustments. 

"They had emergency lights on in the room, but not on the stage," said Catherine Trudeau, who participated in the convocation.

"The whole ceremony went on without power."

She said the master of ceremonies used a megaphone instead of a microphone. 

"I think it's something memorable. I think we're going to laugh at, at some point. We were disappointed but life happens," Trudeau said.

Concordia tweeted that the afternoon convocation ceremony is expected to run as scheduled.