UPDATED: Strong winds in Grand Forks cause damage

Strong winds in Grand Forks led to power outages and damage throughout the area on Friday.

Strong winds brought down trees in Grand Forks. Pictured here

Strong winds brought down trees in Grand Forks. Pictured here

Editor’s note: Updated with quotes from City of Grand Forks CAO Lynne Burch and FortisBC.

The wind storm that hit Grand Forks on the afternoon of July 20 led to power outages, damage and a fatality.

There were widespread reports of downed trees, wires and poles and collapsed houses along with the outages.

“The damage is all over the valley, right from North Fork Road, Granby Road through to Carson Road,” explained Grand Forks Fire Rescue Chief Dale Heriot on Friday night.

He said there were collapsed houses on McCallum View Drive, Carson Road, Almond Gardens East and Pines Bible Camp.

In terms of the bible camp, which is 8.5 km up the North Fork Road, a tree fell on a cabin and killed an 11-year-old boy, Richard Fehr.

On Monday evening, City of Grand Forks CAO Lynne Burch said that the city was continuing to clean up its parks, Evergreen Cemetery and city boulevards and roadways.

“We’re just in the clean up mode at this time,” she said, adding that on Friday night, between 4:30 until about 9 p.m., Grand Forks Fire Rescue received 25 calls for service and approximately 28 volunteer firefighters responded to those calls.

“The hardest hit (on Friday) was the Valmar subdivision, the next area would be the Ruckle addition – they did have some significant damage there,” Burch said.

The cemetery, BMX track, Grand Forks Credit Union parking lot and backyards throughout the city saw downed trees and other types of damage.

The city, which provides power to most of the residents within city limits, seemed largely unaffected by the storm, although there had to be power cut to certain areas on Friday night.

“We did have to disconnect power for a period of time in some areas because there were trees over power lines and we couldn’t touch the trees without cutting the power first,” said Burch.

Residents serviced by FortisBC weren’t as lucky, particularly in the North Fork Road area as some were without power for most of the weekend.

Fortunately FortisBC crews worked around the clock to restore power and as of Tuesday morning, it said it was completing restoration work.

In a release Monday, FortisBC said it was working on the main line that services the North Fork area and on Tuesday, it said the line had been restored, although there were still some without power.

“There are a few pockets of customers without service and that’s a result of having specific damage (damaged transformers) and we’re working to specifically with them,” said FortisBC Director of Communications Joyce Wagenaar on Tuesday morning. “I’d say approximately 60 people are without power and we’re working directly with them to get them up and running as soon as possible.”

Wagenaar said it would be hard to estimate exactly when everything would be back to normal in terms of power.

She said that over the weekend, power was also restored to Ymir, Crawford Bay, Coffee Creek and Kaslo as well as to other areas of Grand Forks.

City council passed a resolution on Monday night where the city will provide refunds related to storm clean up.

“We’ll set up a program for that starting probably (today) and people who have removed debris from city boulevards, that was in cleaning up city property, if they bring their receipts to city hall from the landfill, the city will refund that money,” said Burch.

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