Freezing rain leads to power outages, fires and CO poisonings in Quebec

by - 3 min read

Freezing rain leads to power outages, fires and CO poisonings in Quebec

by - 3 min read


Emergency officials in southern Quebec are warning residents to take extra precautions as widespread power outages continued into a second day after freezing rain hit the region yesterday.

By 10 a.m. Tuesday, Hydro-Québec was working to restore electricity to an estimated 250,000 customers mostly in the Laval, Laurentians and Lanaudière regions.

The power failures have led to dozens of emergencies ranging from carbon monoxide poisoning, fires and traffic pileups especially in Laval, fire and police officials said Tuesday.

SylvainGariépy, a division chief of operations with the Laval fire department, said his crews have responded to fires both outside and inside homes, due to falling branches and candles.

He said there have also been two cases of carbon monoxide poisoning, including one family that brought a barbecue in the house to warm up. A man was also found unconscious after authorities believe he inhaled toxic fumes from a fuel-burning generator he had indoors.

Gariépy said five people in total have been taken to hospital so far, but all are in good condition.

Trees and branches have been bowing under the weight of ice buildup after freezing rain swept through southern Quebec on Monday. (Mathieu Wagner/Radio-Canada)

The power outages began Monday morning as freezing rain and high winds rolled into the province, coating surfaces in slick ice and knocking down trees and power lines.

Hydro-Québec spokesperson Louis-Olivier Batty said the power company has deployed every available team to restore power as quickly as possible.

Crews have to repair an estimated 600 individual outages mostly in Laval, Laurentians and Lanaudière and to a lesser extent in the Montérégie, Montreal and Outaouais regions.

“In many areas, before our crews can access the network, we have to clear these branches and trees, so it’s not helping our crews to do the work,” he said.

In Laval, authorities are going door to door to check that seniors and people in vulnerable positions are safe.

He encouraged people to check on friends and relatives and make sure that carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are working properly.

Laval police spokesperson EvelyneBoudreau said the city is providing community space to keep warm, eat and take a hot shower. Without street lights operating, she said a number of car accidents had been reported, including one pileup.

“Police officers are assigned with every other employee of the city to patrol the streets and to be on the lookout for people using generators, for different people asking for help,” said Boudreau. 

YannickRoussy woke up Tuesday to see a lot of branches on his property in Laval. He has been without power at his home since 10:30 a.m. on Monday.

He was heading into work Tuesday not knowing if there was power there, but he was certain he’d be ending the day by cleaning up his property.

“I don’t have a choice,” he said. “My trees look a little bit sick. A lot of branches fell. A lot are broken.”

School closures across the region

School boards across the Laval, the Laurentians and the Lanaudière regions close schools for the day.

The school boards affected include:

  • Sir WilfridLaurier School Board.
  • Commission ScolairedesAffluents.
  • Commission scolaire de Laval (CSDL).
  • Commission scolaire de la Seigneurie-des-Mille-Iles.
  • A number of private schools in the area.

Guy Dumont, a janitor with the CSDL in Laval, stopped by work to take out the trash and recycling before heading home Tuesday morning to try to keep warm with his kids.

Guy Dumont, a janitor in Laval, was wearing a headlamp at 6 a.m. while he tidied up at Les Explorateurs school on Bédard Street. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

“My kids are home too because there is no school [for them] too,” said Dumont, who was wearing a headlamp at 6 a.m. while he tidied up at Les Explorateurs school on Bédard Street.

“We’re going to try to make some food with my oven. I got a little oven. We’re going to make eggs, bacon. It’s going to smell good.”

This story originally appeared on CBC