A mysterious electrical fire on Crown Road in Waneta shut down phone and electrical service to much of the Waneta industrial area south of Trail Wednesday as regional fire staff, Fortis BC line crews, and Telus representatives struggled to determine the cause.
Firefighters from Trail and Montrose responded to the call on the rural road between KC Recycling and Waneta Auto Recyclers at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Kootenay Boundary regional fire Chief Terry Martin said that a power line had apparently been burning since Tuesday evening but that the fire services hadn’t been called until the next morning.
“At this point we’re not sure if it’s a Telus line or a Fortis line,” said Martin at the scene of the fire. “All we can do is stand by and make sure nothing else catches fire.”
The owner of Waneta Auto Recyclers, Terry Forsythe, made the initial call to Fortis when he first noticed sparks coming from a junction box on the line Tuesday evening.
“I called it in Tuesday night before the phone went down,” said Forsythe. “The Fortis guy checked it out and said it was a Telus line and put tape around the pole. Wednesday I went out there and the box was burning and I tried to use a fire extinguisher but that just made it worse.”
Telus Media Relations representative Shawn Hall said crews were waiting to assess the cause.
“Sometime last night there was a power ground short and Fortis is currently working on the electrical fault. The Telus crew is waiting for Fortis to repair the fault before we can go in and repair the cable and equipment.
“As soon as it is safe and the electrical hazard has been dealt with we can make our repairs. We anticipate it could be six or seven hours to make the repairs. We have a handful of customers in the industrial park without service until then.”
Power was restored to the majority of businesses in the Waneta industrial area by 1 p.m. Wednesday but KC recycling was still without power.
“FortisBC experienced an outage affecting the Waneta Industrial Park which affected a number of commercial customers in the area. Exact cause is still unknown. FortisBC crews were sent to the site and began work to restore powe,” FortisBC Corporate Communications advisor, Tracy Tang, said in an email response.
Fire crews were kept busy later in the day also being called out to deal with a small grass fire at 1948 Old Salmo Road in Fruitvale.