Last week, darkness enveloped a portion of northwestern, British Columbia after a beaver, acting independently, munched through a tree, causing it to fall and tear through a number of nearby power lines. The resulting destruction led to a portion of residents living in Prince Rupert, a port city along the coast of the Canadian province, without internet access and cell service.
As reported by CTV News, officials were able to link the outage on June 7, to the actions of a lone beaver, as evidenced by chew marks located near the bottom of the toppled tree. Apparently the beaver had chewed through an aspen tree, which then fell through a BC Hydro line and a Telus fiber-optic cable. The former is a Canadian electric utility company, while the latter is a telecommunications firm. Both lines were supported by BC Hydro poles, situated further inland.
Interestingly enough, despite the outage impacting Telus customers across 15 different towns and cities in the province, only 21 individuals were affected. Bob Gammer, an official at BC Hydro, was the sleuth who managed to piece the whole situation together, and his comments suggest this beaver outage was not completely out of the ordinary:
“It's unusual, but it does happen every once in a while ... So I wouldn't be a rich man if I had a nickel for every beaver outage, but they do happen.”
Inconvenience abound — While this story seems objectively hilarious, some locals weren’t exactly grinning about interrupted digital services.
Brett Johnson, an auto technician at a gas station located near the affected regions noted that the beaver debacle “was a real nuisance,” because “nobody really carries cash anymore.” With service outages abound, some businesses were unable to accept credit or debit card payments.
The power lines that were damaged are located in a difficult-to-reach area, with high water levels and swampy terrain. Northwestern communities in British Columbia are subject to the occasional whims of beaver decision-making, because there is only one fiber optic cable between Prince George and Prince Rupert.
However, CityWest, the utilities company owned by Prince Rupert, is intending on laying another line to connect to Vancouver, offering a contingency of sorts in the event the original line goes down again.