Hydro One says it is “doing everything it possibly can to get the power back on” in downtown Toronto following a massive outage but can’t say when that will happen.
At around 12:30 p.m. Thursday, a crane on a barge travelling in the Port Lands’ Ship Channel reportedly hit one or more of the utility’s high-voltage transmission lines resulting in a outage throughout most of the downtown core.
At its peak, an estimated 10,000 customers were left in the dark. Power has since been restored to many of the buildings and other infrastructure impacted by the outage, however thousands remain in the dark.
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“We don’t have an estimated time of restoration to provide. We know it is the one piece of information that everyone wants and at the moment we are in a position to provide that we will,” Hydro One spokesperson Tiziana Baccega Rosa told CP24 late Thursday afternoon.
“At this point, all we can do is assure everyone we are doing everything we possibly can to get the power back on.”
Rosa said crews are working “as quickly and as safely as possible” and employing “every available resource” to restore hydro, include the rerouting of power from some infrastructure with additional capacity.
“We understand how critical it is for us to get this power back on,” Rosa said.
The outage knocked out power to parts of the Hospital for Sick Children’s campus for several hours on Thursday afternoon.
It also darkened a portion of the Eaton Centre, forcing the closure of hundreds of stores. The mall, however, reopened at around 3:30 p.m. following the restoration of power.
Many large advertising screens at Yonge-Dundas Square also went dark this afternoon, but are slowly staring to come back online.
Toronto Fire Service District Chief Stephan Powell told CP24 that at this point the public is being advised to steer clear of the area of Bouchette and Commissioners streets where the incident occurred.
“The (downed) wires are still live to the best of our knowledge and there is still an electrocution hazard,” he said, adding fire vehicles are stationed at both ends of the roadway to keep people away.
He also said firefighters are monitoring in case any of the lines spark and catch fire.
There are no reports of injuries at this point, Powell noted, adding crews rescued several people trapped in elevators this afternoon due to the outage.
Subway and GO Transit not impacted
The outage is currently impacting customers in the following areas:
North of Carlton St. to Queens Quay East, between York St. and Bayview Ave.
North of The Esplanade to Queens Quay E., between Church St. and Lower Jarvis St.
Toronto police are advising drivers to treat signalized intersections as four-way stops, if the lights are out. Traffic continues to move slowly throughout much of the downtown core.
While subways are still running, the TTC said that there have been significant streetcar delays due to traffic lights being out in parts of the downtown core. The TTC also said that there is a partial outage at King Station, which is impacting PRESTO vending machines and elevators.
Meanwhile, Metrolinx said its PRESTO, GO Transit, and UP Express services are all still running. Union Station also has full power.
“We’re monitoring very closely though and will keep customers updated if it appears services are going to be impacted,” the agency told CP24.
Tory issues statement
CTV News Political analyst Scott Reid was driving downtown when the lights went out.
He said navigating the city’s streets was a bit “hairy” as several traffic lights are out in the downtown core.
Reid said police officers are directing traffic at some major intersections, but not all.
In a statement posted on social media, Toronto Mayor John Tory thanked “those without power for their ongoing patience.”
The mayor also called on Hydro One and Toronto Hydro to let the public know exactly what happened once the power is back on.
For her part, Hydro One spokesperson Tiziana Baccega Rosa said that it is still too early to determine precisely what happened and why. But she said that it is “entirely possible” that the crane took out multiple power lines along Ship Channel.
“We actually don’t know that it is just one line; that is one of the elements we are investigating,” she told CP24.