Helium balloons in Vernon, a hungry bear outside Nakusp and busy beavers in Dawson Creek top BC Hydro’s list of most memorable causes of power outages in 2020. (BC Hydro photo)

Helium balloons in Vernon, a hungry bear outside Nakusp and busy beavers in Dawson Creek top BC Hydro’s list of most memorable causes of power outages in 2020. (BC Hydro photo)

BC Hydro’s top 10 memorable outages of 2020

Helium balloons in Vernon and a hungry bear near Nakusp top BC Hydro’s list

BC Hydro Crews were kept busy with more than 61,000 calls in 2020. While the vast majority of those calls were run-of-the-mill, the occasional outage left a lasting impression on crews tasked with keeping the lights on.

Vernon appeared to have the busiest year of bizarre outages, making BC Hydro’s top 10 list of memorable outages in 2020 four times. But everywhere from Prince George to East Vancouver had some moments that were the buzz around BC Hydro water coolers.

1. More weight than a cherry tree can bear

Topping the list is a hungry bear that scurried up a cherry tree outside of Nakusp. Unfortunately, the bear must have eaten a few too many cherries prior as the branches couldn’t bear the weight, and fell onto BC Hydro equipment. Ouch.

2. Lights out on Grandma’s birthday

In Vernon, a grandmother’s birthday celebration took a dark turn when her helium balloons came loose and glided into some overhead wires, causing an outage that affected 120 homes. The party ended there, but at least grandma had a memorable story to mark the occasion.

3. Dam construction

Construction mishaps are often the cause of power outages, but more notable was the dam construction by some busy beavers in Dawson Creek and Prince George that felled some branches over BC Hydro lines, causing outages affecting more than 700 customers.

4. Birds show no regard for construction protocols

While building their nests, Ospreys in Vernon and Kelowna decided to drop their unneeded nest supplies onto BC Hydro power lines. Perhaps an attempted game of power line pick-up sticks?

5. A different kind of power line buzz

Wasps settled into BC Hydro equipment in Surrey, North Vancouver and Chemainus, and even nested inside a streetlight in Windermere. Crews may have been briefly confused by the buzzing coming from shut-down lines…

6. A dangerous snack

Some very brave squirrels managed to chew through wires in Nanaimo and Langley, leading to outages for more than 8,000 customers.

7. A shocking theft

Crews in Chilliwack responded to an outage only to find the electricity meter was missing. They later retrieved it from a burglar found walking down the street with the meter in hand.

8. Runaway kites

In both Hope and Vernon, a kite broke free from its owner’s grasp, turning the lights out for 2,000 customers. Luckily the kite owners let go of the line to avoid getting zapped!

9. When going green goes black

An avid composter in East Vancouver may want to rethink their composting habits, after a plant tossed out of a window hit electrical equipment, causing a power outage.

10. Leaf those lines alone

In Vernon, a homeowner was lucky to avoid injury after coming into contact with a power line while cleaning the gutters, blacking out power in the area.

While having fun shedding light on some of the more notable incidents over the past year, BC Hydro advised residents to be mindful of power lines in their area — and avoid flying balloons, kites or drones near them. Always securely fasten balloons, lest they be carried away by a gust of wind and leave you and your neighbours in the dark.

“Every year people are seriously injured or killed by electricity. Stay back at least three metres from any power lines – the length of a standard four-door car,” said BC Hydro media relations.

READ MORE: Impaired driving survivor implores people to not drink and drive this holiday season

WATCH: Check out Vernon’s Christmas lights display from home


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

Best of 2020power outages

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Motorists breaking travel rules can be fined $230 for failing to follow instructions or $575 if the reason for travel violates the essential travel health order, at this Highway 3 check area near Manning Park. Photo RCMP
RCMP begin stopping drivers on BC highways – check point at Manning Park

Four check points are set up Thursday May 6 around the province

South Surrey nurse Brittany Williams has been involved with the Burn Camp since 2013. (Contributed photo)
Burn camp ‘really puts things in perspective,’ says South Surrey nurse

Brittany Williams’ experiences hoped to boost Hometown Heroes Lottery fundraiser

John Paul Fraser, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. (Screen shot)
Salmon farmers warn Surrey jobs on line as feds end Discovery Islands operations

344 full-time jobs at risk in Surrey and 1,189 B.C.-wide

Serena Deol, Jaspreet Deol, Madison Sweeney and Tanveer Pannu (pictured clockwise from top left) are Surrey United soccer players recruited to the University of Fraser Valley. (submitted photos)
Surrey United soccer quartet sign to play for UFV Cascades

Three of the university’s recruits are Panorama Ridge Secondary students

Dr. Bonnie Henry B.C.'s provincial health officer, updates the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
Province ‘ramping up’ COVID-19 vaccination effort in hard-hit Surrey

‘Door-to-door’ registration program in the works, says Dr. Bonnie Henry

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

The Aquilini Investment Group has agreed to a proposed contract of five years to run the Abbotsford Centre. (File photo)
Proposal to run Abbotsford Centre offered to Canucks ownership group

Planned five-year contract to cost city $750K annually, starting Jan. 1, 2022

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read