By Chad Ingram
Published July 31 2018
At press time the cause of a large fire at a Hydro Onesubstation along County Road 21 on the afternoon of Thursday July 26had not been determined.
The fire knocked out power to more than 22000 Hydro One customers in the area or in other words virtually all ofHaliburton County for about a six-hour period that evening.
“It’s still under investigation” Tiziana BaccegaRosa senior media relations advisor for Hydro One told the paper thefollowing morning. “The fire’s still smouldering.”
While the county’s fire departments battled theblaze through the night Hydro One had power restored to areas affectedby the fire at the station by about 10 p.m.
“They were able to re-route power through alternatelines” Baccega Rosa said. “We would like to thank all those affected.We would like to thank people for their patience.”
She said Hydro One would have more information once its staff was able to re-enter the site.
Minden Hills fire chief Mike Bekking told the paperthe department got the call for the fire just before 4:15 p.m. All fourof the county’s fire departments – Minden Hills Dysart et al Algonquin Highlands and Highlands East – were called in to battle the blaze.
“The fire marshal was there last night and we didconsult with him” Bekking still on-site told the paper the morningfollowing the fire. “They were not called in for investigation theywere called in for their resources.”
As for the cause “I’d only be speculating” Bekking said adding that causation had not yet been determined.
There was a severe thunderstorm in the county theafternoon of the fire one that pelted Minden and surrounding area withlarge hailstones.
“The transformer is completely destroyed” Bekkingcontinued adding that while he still had to consult with Hydro One he estimated that would equate to at least $2 million in damage.
While there were Hydro One employees on site when the fire began Bekking said no one was injured.
A stretch of County Road 21 near the facility wasblockaded and Bekking ordered an evacuation of residents in theimmediate area. He told the paper about 25 households received theevacuation order.
“The initial concerns were concerning smoke andpossible PCBs (substances used in the fluids of transformers) containedin that smoke” Bekking said. “It was later determined that was not anissue.”
“The fire was contained at approximately 12:30a.m.” Bekking continued adding evacuees were notified circa 1:15 a.m.they could return to their homes.
Bekking noted “how well the services worked together Hydro One the OPP EMS. It was a real team effort to put this fire out.”
“We appreciate the patience everyone had” Bekking added.
Minden Hills Mayor Brent Devolin thanked the members of what he called an effective team for their handling of thesituation as well as residents for their patience.
“It was a complex fire but we had a good outcome” Devolin said. “The evacuation I think was prudent.”
The morning following the fire about 1500customers in the county remained without power although Baccega Rosaindicated those outages were as a result of general storm damage –branches on wires etc. – and not the fire.
It was expected those outages would be resolved by that evening.