Toronto Hydro crews worked throughout the night and day to restore power to 25,000 customers who were left in the cold and dark after a storm hit the GTA Tuesday afternoon.
As of 7 p.m. Wednesday, 3,100 customers were still without power. Toronto Hydro said that the restoration efforts will continue throughout the day but some people may not have electricity until midnight, though a handful of cases may persist into Thursday morning.
The power outages had been affecting subway service on the Bloor-Danforth Line 2 between Warden and Kennedy station as well as Scarborough SRT Line 3. Service was suspended for several hours due to “hydro-related signal problems” but has since been restored.
The Toronto District School Board has been redirecting students at a dozen schools affected by power outages. The Markham campus of Seneca College was also closed until noon.
Toronto Fire Services began responding to reports of 23 transformer fires and 25 pole fires across the city around 6:30 p.m. last night.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Toronto Hydro CEO Anthony Haines said that more than 50 pole fires caused outages Tuesday night. Haines said normally a pole fire might break out once every two weeks.
Four hydro stations had similar problems Tuesday night, Haines said, which resulted in large-scale outages before they were resolved “quite quickly.”
Toronto Hydro said the pole fires were caused road salt kicked up on to the poles by vehicles mixing with freezing rain. Salt water is a good conductor, and, in this case, caused electricity to track down the poles and ignite the dry wood underneath.
Toronto Hydro said it normally washes salt from the poles, but cleaning can only be done when the temperature is above 10 C. The long cold stretch prevented any cleaning this winter.
The number of outages, originally at 25,000 by 11 p.m. Tuesday night, spiked to 35,000 and continued to rise throughout the night.
“At one point we had 87,000 people down,” said Brian Buchan, spokesperson for Toronto Hydro. “We had supply issues from Hydro One. They were having similar issues as we were having and when they go down, we go down.