British Columbia

No party for thousands of Victoria residents after rogue balloons hit power lines

BC Hydro is reminding the public that balloons and power lines don’t mix after helium balloons came into contact with power lines Wednesday afternoon, plunging parts of downtown Victoria into darkness.

Power cut to downtown core as crews work to safely untangle hydro lines and balloon strings Wednesday

BC Hydro says untethered balloons were responsible for 30 outages affecting tens of thousands of customers across the province last year.

BC Hydro is reminding the public that balloons and power lines don't mix — after helium balloons came into contact with power lines Wednesday afternoon — plunging parts of downtown Victoria into darkness.

BC Hydro spokesperson Ted Olynyk said the incident happened in the worst possible location.

"Usually, if balloons come into contact with lines, it will take out a circuit which is about two thousand people," said Olynyk. "Right at that location is a meeting of two circuits, so that's why it took out 5,000 customers."

Residents, as well as businesses in the downtown core, were affected by the outage.

Rogue balloons responsible for dozens of outages

BC Hydro says untethered helium balloons cause dozens of unnecessary power outages. Last year alone, rogue balloons were responsible for 30 outages affecting tens of thousands of BC Hydro customers.

During Wednesday's incident, BC Hydro crews were able to safely untangle the wires and strings and restore power within two hours.

"Its a problem for us because it takes our crews away from dealing with work that's scheduled — but more importantly, it's the impact to our customers." said Olynyk

​Secure balloons with individual weights

BC Hydro encourages customers to secure balloons with individual weights to keep it from floating away — and never attach streamers, as they are excellent conductors of electricity.

Olynyk says if you see a balloon that has come into contact with a power line, don't try and pull it out.

"We're talking about 25,000 volts. That's enough to cause a lot of damage — and a lot of pain and hurt."

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