A power outage that occurred during an intense thunder and lightning storm over Kamloops has shut down operations at the Domtar pulp mill until later Friday.
Backup systems kicked in at about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday when the mill’s power variance detection equipment was tripped.
Stuart Lister, Domtar’s manager of corporate communications and public relations said Thursday the trip is under investigation, but the storm was active at the time.
“There was lots of lightning (Wednesday) night in the city,” he said.
Staff took advantage of the downtime to start maintenance that was scheduled to begin next week. Lister said the work concludes today and the mill will resume operations.
Lister said it’s not known if the power failed on BC Hydro’s system or Domtar’s. Nor did he know if the investigation into the outage would conclude Friday.
“Power is restored, we just can’t flip the switch on our end,” said Lister.
BC Hydro reported 50 customers in the Kamloops area went without power for several hours Wednesday night. About 500 customers were left in the dark in Salmon Arm.
The storm rattled communities throughout the Southern Interior, with Kelowna, the Shuswap and Vernon taking the brunt of the abuse. Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist counted 2,800 lightning strikes in the region.
The B.C. Forest Service recorded 24 spot fires in the Kamloops area. Fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek said the lightning was accompanied by rain, which prevented the blazes from consuming no more than two combined hectares.
Lundquist said as much as 50 millimetres of rain deluged Kelowna during each of the two fiercest hours of the wicked weather. But only trace amounts were recorded at Kamloops Airport.
The storm uprooted trees and left roads washed out in the Okanagan but no such carnage was reported in Kamloops.
Lightning touched down on a house on Badger Drive in Dallas and a mobile home at the G&M Trailer Park on the Tk’emlups Indian Reserve. Fire and Rescue assistant chief Dennis Fayers said damage to each home was minimal.
Thompson Valley Disaster Kleenup is repairing one of the residences. Owner Reg Dennill said lightning hits homes in Kamloops a couple of times a year.
The strikes can start fires and play havoc with home electronics, he said.