Blackout over after 250,000 without power in sweltering Toronto



Pedestrians walk through a darkened corridor in Union Station during a power out downtown on Monday.

Photograph by: Brent Lewin, National Post

A fire at a transmission station knocked out power to more than one-third of all Toronto homes and businesses during the afternoon commute Monday, in the midst of a blistering heat wave on the hottest day so far this year.

The outage was traced to a fire at a Hydro One transmission station in the city's west end at 4:42 p.m. local time. No injuries were reported directly related to the fire, the power authority said. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The Hydro One transformers feed substations operated by Toronto Hydro, which delivers electricity to about 700,000 customers located in the City of Toronto.

The "large-scale power outage" at one point affected 250,000 people in the city's west end in the area bounded by Eglinton, Dundas, Spadina and Keele. There were also reports of outages in the city's financial district.

Hydro One said power has been fully restored by 8:30 p.m.

Toronto went black just hours prior to an official state dinner planned Monday by the Canadian government for the Queen at the Royal York Hotel.

The official state dinner went ahead as planned at the downtown hotel, which had switched on to emergency power, according to Caroline Marchildon, a spokeswoman with Canadian Heritage. A number of dignitaries, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper attended the dinner.

Toronto Fire Services Capt. Mike Strapko said many people were trapped in elevators and intersections throughout the downtown area were without traffic lights during the evening rush hour. The outage also affected subway service on the Bloor-Danforth line.

St. Joseph's Health Centre, located in the west end of Toronto, was also using emergency power and was operating "business as usual," spokeswoman Gillian Brunning said.

A brief power surge occurred at Toronto's Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, Ont. as the airport kicked into its backup power system, spokesman Scott Armstrong said, causing "minimal impact - nothing a passenger would notice."

The power problems happened on the same day Toronto, and much of Ontario and Quebec, endured its first heat wave of the summer.

Temperatures hit 34 C in Toronto at the time of the outage, but it felt more like 45 C with the humidity. An extreme heat alert and a smog advisory was in place for the city.

With files from Linda Nguyen.


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Pedestrians walk through a darkened corridor in Union Station during a power out downtown on Monday.

Pedestrians walk through a darkened corridor in Union Station during a power out downtown on Monday.

Photograph by: Brent Lewin, National Post


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