By Chad Ingram
Published July 31 2018
At press time the cause of a large fire at a Hydro One substation along County Road 21 on the afternoon of Thursday July 26 had not been determined.
The fire knocked out power to more than 22000 Hydro One customers in the area or in other words virtually all of Haliburton County for about a six-hour period that evening.
“It’s still under investigation” Tiziana Baccega Rosa senior media relations advisor for Hydro One told the paper the following morning. “The fire’s still smouldering.”
While the county’s fire departments battled the blaze through the night Hydro One had power restored to areas affected by the fire at the station by about 10 p.m.
“They were able to re-route power through alternate lines” Baccega Rose 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 paper the department got the call for the fire just before 4:15 p.m. All four of 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 did consult with him” Bekking still on-site told the paper the morning following the fire. “They were not called in for investigation they were 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 the afternoon of the fire one that pelted Minden and surrounding area with large hailstones.
“The transformer is completely destroyed” Bekking continued 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 was blockaded and Bekking ordered an evacuation of residents in the immediate area. He told the paper about 25 households received the evacuation order.
“The initial concerns were concerning smoke and possible PCBs (substances used in the fluids of transformers) contained in that smoke” Bekking said. “It was later determined that was not an issue.”
“The fire was contained at approximately 12:30 a.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 the situation 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 1500 customers in the county remained without power although Baccega Rosa indicated 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.