Area of downtown core to remain without power for 4-7 days



The downtown core will remain eerily dark for the next four to seven days.

A toxic smell drifted over much of the west portion of downtown after an underground electrical fire that began around 8:30 p.m. Saturday night.

Several city blocks were filled with smoke and at one point blue flames could be seen shooting out of an underground manhole at 8th Avenue and 5th Street southwest.

The affected area is south of 4th Avenue to north of 7th Avenue S.W., west of 5th Street to east of 11 Street.

Gianna Manes, President and CEO of Enmax said around 5,000 people were without power.

“It’s a total of 112 residential and commercial buildings have been impacted. But we know given the nature of these buildings, there are thousands more people who are impacted by this power outage,” Manes said. “This system will be entirely shut down until we can repair it and make sure that it is safe to turn back on. Given the extent of the damage we have incurred, we expect the power to be out in this area for a number of days. Our preliminary estimates at this time are that the majority of customers and people in buildings in this area will be impacted for approximately four days. Again, because of the damage it is possible that it may take as many as seven days to restore.”

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said people should be unplugging their appliances if in the affected area to avoid a surge when power is restored.

“If you are in a home that is impacted by an electrical outage, there are some things we’d like you to do right away: Unplug your electrical appliances, including computers, televisions an coffee-makers and so-on, so there is no surge when the power comes back on,” Nenshi said. “Again, please make sure your stove is turned off. That’s really important. You may recall, that during the flood we had to deal with high-rise fire in the middle of the flood because someone had left their stove on and the power came back on and bad things happened. So, once things are up and running when we re-energize, there will be a power surge.”

Ken Uzeloc, with the Calgary Emergency Management Agency said it is important to help those who need it.

“Consider reaching out to friends and family, contact your building manager or operator to determine the status of your building and call your insurance company,” Uzeloc said. “As a result of the fire, the Calgary Fire Department has tested the air quality and it has been deemed acceptable in the buildings that were in the fire area. However, if you are not feeling well, we encourage you to contact Alberta Health Link at 1-866-408-5465.”

With this being Thanksgiving long weekend, there is a chance a lot of people have some food ready to be cooked, but officials are warning people to be cautious.

“Please keep your freezer and refrigerator doors closed to keep food cold for many hours. Most foods will keep in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Dairy products, however, should be discarded after six hours,” Uzeloc said. “Items in the freezer will last 12 to 48 hours, depending on how full the freezer is and what kinds of foods are stored inside. Please make plans to dispose of any items you need to in your fridges and freezers past those standard times.”

The C-Train is operating along 7th Ave, however, Calgary Transit says there will be no bus service in the affected area.

At the peak of the damage, 19 intersections were in the dark and 5,000 people were without power, but there are no reported injuries.

The Mewata Armoury is expected to be used as a communication station for residents to keep informed of the issue.

An Alberta Emergency Alert was issued for downtown Calgary for 911 services for landline customers; however the call centre was functioning normally.

Some of the important buildings affected are the Standard Life Building, the Bantrel Tower at 700 6 Ave S.W, Fifth and Fifth at 237 4 Ave SW & 425 1 St SW, and the Calgary Courthouse at 601 5th St. SW.

For City of Calgary updates, click here.

For Alberta Emergency Alerts, click here.

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