Northern Quebec fires cause major Montreal power failure

Thousands of Montreal public transit users and people on rides at amusement park La Ronde were stranded after a major power failure during rush hour.

Power failure plunges Montreal Metro system into darkness

The rides at La Ronde were stopped during a major power failure in southern Quebec. (Guy St-Onge)

Thousands of Montreal public transit users were stranded during rush hour Wednesday after a sprawling power failure shut down all Metro lines.

Hydro-Québec confirmed the power failure was related to the spreading forest fires around Eastmain in northern Quebec near James Bay.

Spokeswoman Marie-Hélène Devault said the intense heat and fire there caused heat-sensing electric breakers to shut down.

She said only industrial and commercial clients such as the STM, Montreal's transit authority, and La Ronde amusement park in Montreal were affected, and not residential customers.

Just before 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Hydro-Québec spokesman Patrice Lavoie said 1,873 clients were without electricity, with the bulk of them being in Quebec's northern communities.

He said 547 clients in Montreal had been affected as well.

Photos of people trapped on rides at La Ronde proliferated on Twitter, as did images of people standing on Metro platforms in the dark.

The service had resumed on all Metro lines by 6 p.m.

Devault said Hydro-Québec's equipment is in good condition and that measures were being taken to restore electricity.