At one point four work crews were busy repairing damage from the storm on Phoenix Avenue. Photo by John Boivin

Emergency crews work to restore Rossland utilities after powerful windstorm

The brief but destructive storm blew through the city on Friday afternoon

Emergency crews were busy in Rossland on Saturday trying to restore services to the community.

A powerful windstorm on Friday afternoon blew through town at about 4:30 p.m., uprooting trees and knocking down power lines.

The storm left more than 1,200 customers without power for about five hours, and damaged phone, cable, and gas lines.

On Saturday morning repair crews from FortisBC, Telus and Shaw Cable were scattered around the city, effecting repairs.

About 30 people were still without heat or power, according to Fortis.

The storm knocked down 150-year-old trees, like the one in Charity Biermann’s front yard. She says her husband and children were in the house at the time. They spent the evening without gas or power.

“My kids went over to my mom’s and had a campfire. We kind of cuddled under duvets all night,” she said. “It’s too bad. It was a gorgeous tree. It was healthy.”

The massive spruce pulled up the front walkway into the house, blocked the driveway, and ripped power and phone lines from their poles. One pole was being replaced as Biermann watched.

Still, she’s counting her blessings.

“It was lucky the way it fell,” she says. “It would have done a huge amount of damage to the house.”

Not all residents were so lucky. A few blocks away, the damage was much worse.

“The neighbour behind me, a big spruce tree came down and took his house out while he was in it,” said Troy Colautti, surveying the repair work going on outside his house on Phoenix Avenue in Lower Rossland.

“I went over to make sure he was all right, meanwhile these two trees here came down on Phoenix and took out everybody’s power and gas lines, the whole nine yards.”

Four emergency crews were busy restoring lines on Phoenix and Union Avenues on Saturday morning.

The power of the brief storm surprised Colautti.

“It lasted maybe a half an hour,” he said. “There was a lot of stuff flying around.”

Colautti says he and his neighbours were evacuated from the area for about three hours while crews tried to control the gas leak.

Fortis estimated power would be restored to the final few dozen customers by Saturday afternoon.

The storm that hit Rossland was part of a much larger system that blew through the southern Interior on Friday, knocking out services to more than 120,000 customers of BC Hydro alone.

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The storm brought down a tree that smashed into a home on Union Avenue in Lower Rossland. No one was injured by the fall. Photo by John Boivin

David Hall, a line worker with Shaw Cable, was busy repairing lines on Phoenix Avenue on Saturday morning. Photo by John Boivin

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