ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Tens of thousands of Newfoundland Power customers were in the dark and buried in snow Saturday following a fire at a terminal station just hours after a powerful blizzard ripped through the region.
John MacIsaac of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro said a transformer malfunctioned at the Sunnyside terminal station around 9 a.m. Saturday, causing a fire and initially knocking out power for 190,000 customers, mostly in eastern parts of Newfoundland.
He said the fire was eventually brought under control and no one was injured.
Gary Smith of Newfoundland Power said although progress was being made throughout Saturday to get people reconnected, some customers could be without power until Tuesday.
He said crews were working around the clock and utility teams from Prince Edward Island would arrive on Monday to help.
“We certainly do appreciate the patience of our customers,” said Smith on Saturday around 6 p.m. local time, adding that about 140,000 customers were without power at that time. That figure, however, had fallen to about 25,000 by early Sunday according to the ultilty’s Twitter feed.
“I do truly understand the agony that you’re going through.”
The province had already been grappling with rolling blackouts implemented Thursday evening by the utility as it tried to cope with increased demand because of bitterly cold temperatures.
Warming centres were opening up across the province Saturday.
Environment Canada meteorologist David Neil said although the blizzard had moved offshore by Saturday morning, high winds were lingering in eastern Newfoundland.
He said winds of 100 kilometres per hour were causing blowing snow in some areas.