Calgary

Power restored to downtown Calgary 5 days after electrical fire

The lights came back on in downtown Calgary early this morning as power was restored to an 18-block section of the city’s core five days after a major underground electrical fire.

Large section of city's core, dark since Saturday's electrical fire, re-energized at 5 a.m.

Large section of city's core, dark since Saturday's electrical fire, re-energized at 5 a.m.Thursday 2:24

The lights came back on in downtown Calgary early this morning as power was restored to an 18-block section of the city’s core five days after a major electrical fire. 

The blaze in an underground utility vault on Saturday night did extensive damage to the area's electrical infrastructure, cutting power to roughly 1,900 customers with meters in 112 residential and commercial buildings in the downtown west end.

The area was re-energized at 5 a.m. MT — several hours ahead of the midday timeline officials had set earlier in the week.

It’s been an interesting experience for sure. Very post-apocalyptic seeing everything blacked out around you.- downtown resident Richard Jagodzinski

Crews with the city-owned utility company Enmax have been working round the clock to replace about 3.5 kilometres of electrical cable destroyed by the fire.

Residential property managers are being asked not to allow tenants to re-enter until their building systems have been inspected.

The city expects most affected businesses and other buildings, such as the Calgary Courts Centre, will be up and running on Friday. 

Businesses reeling in blackout aftermath

Businesses and residents are encouraged to contact their insurance providers for any damage.

Enmax announced early Thursday morning that power had been restored to the west side of Calgary's downtown. (Mike Spenrath/CBC)

Mayor Naheed Nenshi also encouraged Calgarians to frequent the small businesses affected by the outage, as many are reeling in the aftermath of the blackout.

Allan Santos, who manages the Good Earth Cafe on Seventh Avenue southwest, said the coffee shop had to throw away more than a thousand dollars worth of perishables.

Just down the road at a hair styling shop, owner Aki Mirshahi says she can't afford any more losses.

Her shop was also closed for eight weeks after the 2013 flood.

"I don't know what I should do. If that happens again.... I think I might just leave it," she said.

Call 211 for support

The Mewata Armoury information centre at 13th Street and Ninth Avenue S.W. to help residents as they return home closed Thursday evening. 

Students wait outside a school in downtown Calgary Thursday morning. The city expects most buildings in the area to be up and running Friday. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

Calgarians who need additional help should call 211, the city said. 

Some residents won't have to make their way home, since they decided to stay put during the outage.

For the first morning this week, Fraser Stewart was able to get ready for work with the lights on.

"It came on at about five this morning, so you heard a little beep, and, 'Oh, that's a good sound.’ So let me try a light. 'Oh, so the light works, so we don't have to wash our hair in the dark.'"

He said the power outage was a lot like camping — without the tent.

Roads closures expected

“It’s been an interesting experience for sure," said downtown resident Richard Jagodzinski 

Enmax says Calgarians should expect some traffic disruptions as the final work gets completed. Work continues on Sixth Avenue and Eighth Street in the photo above. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

"Very post-apocalyptic seeing everything blacked out around you."

Enmax CEO and president Gianna Manes warned Calgarians to expect some traffic disruptions as the final work gets completed.

"There may be some bumps yet today but things are looking strong so far, and certainly if we do encounter any of these bumps we will be working hard to make sure they are repaired. But again, the system is strong, stable and back on,” she said.

Shaw Communications says it needs another day to return phone, internet and cable services to the area.