A downed tree caused internet customers in Northwest B.C. to lose power on Feb. 3 (File photo)

Downed tree causes internet outage in Northwest B.C.

Damaged hydro lines burned through fibre-optic cables just east of Terrace

A fibre-optic line break east of Terrace led to a large percentage of Terrace, Kitimat, Haida Gwaii and Prince Rupert residents losing their internet service late Saturday evening.

City West CEO Chris Marett confirmed that the break was caused when a tree fell on high-voltage hydro lines, damaging the fibre-optic lines that run underneath them.

“When the hydro lines broke, they burned through the fibre lines which carries Prince Rupert’s and Terrace’s internet traffic,” Marett said.

Service was lost at approximately 7:20 p.m. on Feb. 3 and was restored at approximately 2:30 a.m. Marett said repair crews had to wait for the hydro lines to be fixed before work could commence on the fibre lines.

In January, both the federal and the provincial government announced that they would be investing a combined $45.4 million to build over 3,500 km of subsea fibre-optic cable around Vancouver Island and along the B.C. coast. Once completed, the Connect the Coast project will provide a backup way to deliver internet service to the Northwest.

Marett said Saturday night’s outage is an example of why a second fibre-optic line is so important.

READ MORE: 154 remote B.C. communities to get high-speed internet

“It was only a matter of time before this happened,” he said. “There’s no redundancy in the north, and once that line is cut, everyone is affected.

“Once the Connect the Coast project is built, we’ll have immediate redundancy.”

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