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

Penticton mayor John Vassilaki responded to BC Housing minster David Eby’s remarks that the city has put themselves at risk of creating a tent city Wednesday, March 3, 2020. (Western News file photo)
Penticton mayor calls out BC Housing minister for ‘irresponsible fear-mongering’

Council recently rejected BC Housing’s request to keep a winter shelter open longer than first planned

Robert Emms spotted these beauties in a waterway in downtown Penticton. (Robert Emms)
Trumpeter swans visit downtown Penticton

The beautiful birds are regulars near the shores of Okanagan Lake on Highway 97

Ecologist and writer Don Gayton wraps up the Penticton Arts Council’s March events. (Submitted)
Penticton Arts Council unveils March’s programs

Making your own comics and short stories highlight March events

After 20 years in the community, Pathways Addiction Recovery Centre has had its funding cut by Interior Health, who says they are bringing addictions services in-house now. (Facebook)
Community outraged at Interior Health’s decision to cut funding to Penticton addiction services centre

People question why Pathways addiction services would be cut during an overdose epidemic

Although B.C. has not made masks mandatory in public indoor spaces, some business owners are requiring all customers to wear them before entering their store. (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
EDITORIAL: Heightened tension over face masks

Incidents of anger and conflicts over mandated masks happening too frequently

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

John Hordyk said it isn’t fair to just look at COVID-19 deaths as many survivors are experiencing long-term impacts, himself included. (Photo by Rachel Muise)
Not getting better: Revelstoke man diagnosed with post-COVID-19 syndrome

‘I hope the damage isn’t long term, but it could be permanent’

The City of Vancouver estimates there are 3,500 Canada geese in the city right now, and that number is growing. (Bruce Hogarth)
Help tame Vancouver’s Canada goose population by reporting nests: park officials

The city is asking residents to be on the lookout so staff can remove nests or addle eggs

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

The restart of the program means seniors can receive affordable meals delivered five days a week Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post.
Princeton Meals on Wheels one year trial will cost $92k

Program restarts, and volunteer drivers are needed

Most Read