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

Family and friends of Hudson Brooks marched as part of a call for answers from an IIO investigation into his 2015 death. (Black Press Media files)
Inquest to look into RCMP shooting death of Hudson Brooks

Charges agains the RCMP officer who shot Brooks were stayed in 2019

Mike LeSage. (submitted photo)
LeSage to head Community Policing Bureau of new Surrey police force

Second of three Deputy Chief Constables to be hired by fledgling force

The old Rickshaw sign today, with the former restaurant location in the building behind it. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
SURREY NOW & THEN: Rickshaw sign stands as a reminder of Jung family’s restaurant days

A weekly look back at Surrey-area landmark sites and events

A little brown bat, which has become endangered due to white-nose syndrome. (Greg Michalowski photo)
Bat sightings on Semiahmoo Peninsula spark worries of white-nose syndrome

Fungal disease is deadly for local bat populations: BC Community Bat Program

Through his lens, Doug Cook captured this picture of the Fraser River, Mount Baker, an eagle, and even the Golden Ears Bridge on a sunny fall afternoon. The photo was taken from the wooden walkway leading down to the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport float plane dock. (Contributed photo)
Friends of Semiahmoo Bay to host virtual World Wetland Day event

Webinar event to feature six speakers, to be held Feb. 2

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons was appointed to the NDP cabinet as minister of social development and poverty reduction after the October 2020 B.C. election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. job training fund increased for developmentally disabled

COVID-19 has affected 1,100 ‘precariously employed’ people

B.C. driver’s licence and identity cards incorporate medical services, but the passport option for land crossings is being phased out. (B.C. government)
B.C. abandons border ID cards built into driver’s licence

$35 option costing ICBC millions as demand dwindles

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

BC Emergency Health Services has deployed the Major Incident Response Team (MIRRT) as COVID-19 positive cases rise in the Williams Lake region. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
B.C.’s rapid response paramedics deployed to Williams Lake as COVID-19 cases climb

BC Emergency Health Services has sent a Major Incident Rapid Response Team to the lakecity

(Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
RCMP say ice climber seriously injured after reportedly falling 12 metres near Abraham Lake

Police say man’s injuries were serious but not life-threatening

The RCMP was called to a condo complex in Langley City in the early hours of Jan. 18, 2021, for a shooting. (Shane Mackichan/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
27-year-old taken to hospital after overnight targeted shooting in Langley

RCMP have not confirmed the incident is link to the Lower Mainland gang conflict

U.S. military units march in front of the Capitol, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021 in Washington, as they rehearse for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony, which will be held at the Capitol on Wednesday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Biden aims for unifying speech at daunting moment for U.S.

President Donald Trump won’t be there to hear it

Williams Lake physician Dr. Ivan Scrooby and medical graduate student Vionarica Gusti hold up the COSMIC Bubble Helmet. Both are part of the non-profit organization COSMIC Medical which has come together to develop devices for treating patients with COVID-19. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Group of B.C. doctors, engineers developing ‘bubble helmet’ for COVID-19 patients

The helmet could support several patients at once, says the group

Most Read