Residents across Greater Victoria were left wondering what was happening Tuesday night, having witnessed flickering lights, power outages and horns and sirens going off.
Turns out a problem at a B.C. Hydro substation had caused power surges across the region and sirens to sound at CFB Esquimalt. People on various Facebook groups online shared their experiences, which also included reports of hearing the sound of helicopters flying overhead.
B.C. Hydro officials say they began experiencing equipment problems Tuesday around 10 p.m.
“There was an issue at one of our substations last night,” confirmed Ted Olynyk, manager of community relations. “Something tripped and when we did some switching in our systems, that would have caused flickering lights across Greater Victoria.”
Olynyk said problems happened at the Horsey substation on Nanaimo Street, noting that despite its central location in Victoria, not far from the city’s border with Saanich, the entire Greater Victoria grid was affected.
CFB Esquimalt officials said their sirens were triggered by a power surge.
“It was not the mass notification system, it was a combination of ships and building alarms,” said Capt. Jenn Jackson.
A Canadian Forces release stated that an alarm on an ORCA-class ships was triggered while it was docked along D Jetty in Colwood, which is monitored by the CFB Esquimalt fire hall. When the alarm was tripped, the fire hall responded and was able to disarm the alarm and determine there were no ongoing issues.
Other alarms were triggered in buildings both at Dockyard and Naden base centres.
In an unrelated incident at 12:30 a.m., a bilge pump alarm was triggered on one of their Maritime Coastal Defense Vessels at Y Jetty in Naden. Jackson said the incident was unrelated to the power surge, and while the exact cause was unknown, it was likely caused by a large shift in the bilge water due to a rocking ship or a loss of power to the pump. People on duty watch were able to respond to the alarm and reset it, she added.
No damage to ships was reported, and additionally, no military helicopters were flying Tuesday night.