New Brunswick

Staying safe after ice storm: let the pros remove trees from power lines, NB Power says

NB Power president Gaetan Thomas says homeowners should leave the removal of broken trees from power lines to those who know what they're doing.

245 crews work to restore power across New Brunswick after ice storm brings trees down on lines

A worker removes ice-laden branches from power lines on Lobban Avenue in Miramichi. NB Power president Gaetan Thomas warns people not to remove downed branches from power lines. (Stephanie McEachern L'Huillier/Facebook)

Homeowners should leave the removal of broken trees from power lines to those who know what they're doing, NB Power president Gaetan Thomas says.

The head of the provincial utility issued the warning at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. 

"Our biggest concern is safety," he said.  

He cautioned people who might want to help power crews by removing broken branches and ice-laden trees from power lines to wait until those trained and with the right equipment get there to do it. 

"Always assume where there is a line down that it's alive," he said. "Please wait for the professionals ."

NB Power is working to restore power to customers as quickly as it can, said Thomas, who took part in the news conference with Premier Brian Gallant and Michael Comeau, assistant deputy minister with the justice and public safety departments.  

More outages possible

At the peak of the outages, 130,000 customers were without power in New Brunswick but by 5 p.m. the number was down to 103,000.

"There could be new outages coming hour by hour,"  Thomas warned.

There are 245 NB Power and external crews working to restore power.

Thomas said the job was going well in southeastern New Brunswick, but crews were unable to fully assess damage in the north, where the storm was still "raging."

Thomas said more crews are available to be brought in Thursday if needed and other crews can be moved once an area is restored. 

Power is being restored systematically, he said, starting with power plants, then transmission lines, then distribution centres.

Gallant and Comeau reminded all New Brunswickers to remain safe during the storm. They encouraged people to check on their neighbours, stay updated and share any important information from the province. 

A number of warming stations have been opened across the province to help those without power. Some areas have been without power since Tuesday.