Stories & features

Wildfires force evacuations, cause series of outages

Photo from July 2017 wildfire shows a burned power pole and a charred landscape with smoky haze in the background
A toppled BC Hydro power pole is at the centre of a photo, taken by one of our power line technicians, of a charred landscape near Cache Creek.

BC Hydro crews working closely with emergency officials battling wildfires

Updated July 31, 2017

Continued wildfires through the Central and Southern Interior regions are creating challenging conditions for B.C.'s firefighters. Power has been restored to over 49,000 customers and just two customers remain without power. 

Nearly 200 BC Hydro crews, contractors and support staff have been working around-the-clock to restore power and replace or repair equipment damaged by the wildfires. We've replaced nearly 900 pieces of equipment including 371 distribution poles, 261 spans of wire, 159 cross arms, 54 transmission structures and 51 transformers.

We're continuing to work with Emergency Management BC and fire officials to manage risk and build contingency in areas threatened by wildfires. We're closely monitoring and contingency planning in the area of the Elephant Hill wildfire, which is in close proximity to transmission lines and the Kelly Lake Substation. 

To help our customers, we've implemented a Wildfire Evacuee Assistance Program, offering bill credits and flexible payment plans to support residential and commercial customers affected by evacuation orders and alerts.

Get outages information by map or by list on bchydro.com, or @bchydro on Twitter.   

Firefighter next to a burning stand of trees
A BC Wildfire Service worker stands alongside a burning stand of trees in the Cariboo. The hot, dry weather has led to at least 200 new wildfires in the last two weeks.

Returning home and food safety

We've received questions from communities and customers regarding the safety of food in fridges and freezers after possible power outages. Unfortunately, due to the extent of the damage to our infrastructure, we're unable to determine with absolute certainty if an individual customer's power was out, how long it was out for, or if a household experienced more than one outage. You may be able to determine if your home lost power by looking at clocks on kitchen appliances.

The health and safety of customers is paramount. We recommend customers refer to Health Canada guidelines when determining the safety of your food. Interior Health has also issued some guidelines regarding food safety for residents who are returning home. 

How you can help

While dry lightning has been the source of several fires, human activity — including discarded cigarettes — is also to blame.

Campfire bans are now in effect in all regions of the province. Please check the BC Wildfire Service bans and restrictions page.

Report wildfires to *5555 on a cell or 1 800 663 5555 toll-free. The BC Wildfire Service provides regular wildfire updates.