Extreme cold causes power outages, water leak in Quesnel

The library suffered a water leak Feb. 2, and about 800 homes were without power for five hours

Lindsay Chung

Observer Reporter

Power outages and a water leak in the library kept B.C. Hydro and City of Quesnel workers busy on a weekend that saw Quesnel come under an extreme cold warning.

Area librarian Heather Lee says she first heard about the water leak in the Quesnel Library Saturday afternoon (Feb. 2).

“Up in the part of the building that the City owns, there was some kind of pipe freeze or something like that, I’m not entirely sure what was going on up there, but it caused kind of a big water leak,” she said. “It started to come through our ceiling here in the library on Saturday in the afternoon.”

Lee wasn’t at the library at the time, but she says a patron noticed the water starting to come through the ceiling, and her staff began moving books and setting up buckets.

“By the time I got here, the water was kind of down to a leak, not a flood,” she said. “We had our buckets out and the folks from the City were working on the issue as well, so by the end of the evening on Saturday, it was pretty well under control as far as in the library. We’ve lost a few books, and we’re going through our collection that was in that area to check for any other books that may have been damaged, but they’ve got it dried out. They were in here working over the weekend, and things are dried out, and the library will be open as usual.”

According to Lee, the leak was in the area that includes the romance paperback section.

“We’ve had to pull the majority of that collection back, and we’ll be working our way through it as the week goes on,” she said. “We’re going to try to have the books that are OK back on the shelves next week, I’m hoping. It’s a pretty small amount of books compared to the entire library. We got really lucky this time. Our damage was really, really minimal, so we’re feeling pretty fortunate”

Lee says they had to close up the library a little bit early on Feb. 2, but they are now open regular hours, and the leak won’t disrupt any service. The library is open Tuesday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Lee says the City and the company they brought in worked hard to dry things out quickly.

“They were onsite really quick and really helped us out a lot,” she said. “We did lose some books that were taken out of the collection that we were saving for a book sale, but that wasn’t a big deal to lose some of those. They were already out of the collection, so we just will have a few fewer books for the book sale. If we had to have a leak, it was probably in the best place possible; it really didn’t do too much damage for us, so we got off really lucky.”

Teann Fung, the City of Quesnel’s communications clerk, says the leak did not affect City services or hours of operation.

The cold weather also affected drivers and homeowners in our area over the weekend.

Drive BC issued a travel advisory for Highway 97 from eight kilometres north of Wildwood to 20 kilometres north of Hixon on Friday, Feb. 1 due to limited visibility with snow and slippery sections. Travel was not recommended unless absolutely necessary.

Residents living south of Quesnel were without power for several hours Saturday night (Feb. 2) on a night when temperatures had dropped to a low of -25 Celsius without windchill and -37 Celsius with the windchill.

Approximately 800 B.C. Hydro customers between Richbar and Australian were without power south of Quesnel.

The outage was first reported in the Kersley and Australian areas Feb. 2 at 10:20 p.m., and near Richbar at 10:48 p.m. The outages were east of Glassford Road and south of Dragon Lake Road near Richbar and west of Highway 97 and north-south-east of Fraser Road in the Kersley and Australian areas, according to the B.C. Hydro outage map.

Power was restored by 3 a.m. Feb. 3, and the cause of both outages were listed as a wire down.

On Sunday morning (Feb. 3), Environment Canada issued an extreme cold warning for the Interior of B.C., including Quesnel, Williams Lake, Vanderhoof and Burns Lake.

“An arctic airmass over the Central Interior is resulting in temperatures reaching as low as minus-30 Celsius this morning,” the warning stated Feb. 3. “This combined with brisk northerly winds is giving extreme wind chill values below minus-40. Conditions are expected to improve this afternoon as temperatures rise.”

The warning has since been lifted.

— with files from Heather Norman

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