Hydro One said power has been restored in Toronto after an outage in the city’s downtown core on Thursday that lasted nearly eight hours and affected about 10,000 customers.
Toronto Hydro said the outage, which began at approximately 12:30 p.m., affected an area stretching from just south of Bloor Street to the edge of the waterfront, and as far west as University Avenue to the Don Valley Parkway in the east.
“Safety is always our top priority. We know this power outage has made today exceptionally difficult for many of you, and we appreciate your patience,” said David Lebeter, chief operating officer of Hydro One in a Thursday evening statement.
“We had all available resources helping to restore power as quickly and safely as possible. I want to thank all of those affected by this outage for their patience and Toronto Fire and Toronto Hydro for their collaboration.”
The cause of the outage was confirmed to be a barge carrying a crane that had struck a critical high-voltage power line in city’s Port Lands district, Hydro One confirmed in a statement Thursday evening.
Hydro One spokesperson Tiziana Baccega Rosa initially said the company was investigating a crane accident as a possible cause, after videos of the barge hitting the power lines was posted to social media.
Toronto Fire District Chief Stephan Powell also confirmed the incident and said that fire services were attending to the scene and had cordoned off a significant portion of the area, noting that the power lines fell into the water and the area remained dangerous.
No injuries have been reported, but Mr. Powell said that fire services responded to a high number of people trapped in elevators related to the power outage. Federal Minister of Immigration Sean Fraser tweeted a picture of himself trapped in an elevator with three others, calling it “terrible timing.”
Jennifer Stranges, spokesperson for Unity Health Toronto, said St. Michael’s Hospital is operating as normal but was affected by the outage and was relying on backup power systems to maintain patient care.
“Patients with scheduled appointments or who need to visit our emergency department should continue to come to the hospital for care. Our teams have worked quickly to respond to this issue and we thank them for their continued efforts,” Ms. Stranges said in an e-mail.
Gillian Howard, vice-president of communications for University Health Network, said the outage also affected Toronto General Hospital, which is on the corner of University Avenue and Elizabeth Street. Ms. Howard said the hospital was operating on normal power, but required emergency backup power for around a half hour. She also noted that none of UHN’s facilities on the west side of University Avenue were affected, such as Mount Sinai Hospital or the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.
The outage caused general frustration for residents around the downtown core as entire blocks remained without power, halting business and creating traffic jams as intersections became four-way stops. In a reminder of the nationwide Rogers outage in July, stores put up signs turning customers away due to a lack of functioning payment systems and an inability to use any appliances. Some people also complained of being unable to access high-speed cellular services like data and 5G networks.
The billboard-laden Yonge-Dundas Square and the Eaton Centre were also affected, the latter of which had its power restored and reopened to shoppers in the midafternoon. Other high-traffic locations, such as St. Lawrence Market, remained closed for the duration of the outage.
The city confirmed city hall and other government buildings in the affected area were also without power or operating on emergency systems.
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