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

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Interior Health reports 2 more deaths, 83 new COVID-19 cases

Health authority also identifies new virus cluster in Fernie

Oliver Town Hall (Town of Oliver Facebook).
Call for local artists to design centennial logo for Oliver

The Town of Oliver will be celebrating 100 years in 2021

Vaseux Lake in winter. (Facebook)
Dogs rescued after falling through ice on Vaseux Lake

Good Samaritans saved the trapped dogs

“My grandma always just said…making people smile is the most important thing,” says Nicholas Kruger. (Chehala Leonard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Entrepreneur Nicholas Kruger nominated as Okanagan community changemaker

With humour and knowledge, Nicholas Kruger says it’s important to give back

Geoff Orr began building his dream home in the hills above Penticton over 14 years ago. The architect used recycled lumber from the old Super-Vale grocery store. (Floating Orb Productions / YouTube)
WATCH: Penticton man shows off dream home made from recycled lumber

A lot of the lumber used was taken from the demolished Super-Valu grocery store

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

Crown prosecutors have stayed attempted murder charges against Kelowna’s Jesse Pez. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Man accused in Kelowna Halloween stabbing has attempted murder charge stayed

The Crown only proceeds with charges when evidence provides ‘a substantial likelihood of conviction’

RCMP released this photo on Jan. 27, 2021 of Terrance Jones, 40, a Caucasian man with a closely shaved head, brown eyes, dirty blonde or brown hair, and a thin mustache and beard. The inside of his right arm is covered in tattoos, including one of a face. (Kamloops RCMP photo)
RCMP want public’s help to locate Shuswap man wanted on charge of attempted murder

Sicamous man was arrested previously on Jan. 11 for allegedly breaching conditions of release

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Most Read