Large swaths of Toronto’s West End were plunged into darkness Tuesday night by the largest blackout to strike the city since the December ice storm.
While eastern sections of the city remained completely untouched by the blackout, neighbourhoods from the Annex to Roncesvalles to Wilson Heights had their power suddenly cut just after 9 p.m. Tuesday.
As residents lit candles and drivers queued at intersections, sirens could be heard throughout the West End as firefighters were dispatched to rescue residents trapped in elevators.
Subway service was quickly suspended between Jane and St. George stations as passengers were evacuated from stopped trains.
By as early as 10 p.m., electricity had been restored to some mid-town areas including High Park and the Junction, although thousands remained in the dark in an area bordered by Mississauga, Lawrence Ave., Duport St. and Yonge St. By approximately 11:20 p.m., Toronto Hydro announced that power had been fully restored throughout the city.
“We’re currently experiencing an outage in the west end & are investigating the cause,” Details to follow as they become available,” reads a Tweet posted just before 10 p.m. by Toronto Hydro.
The utility later added that the outage was due to a Hydro One transmission issue.
“Hydro One is investigating the cause of a power outage supplying Toronto Hydro in the west end,” wrote a post by the transmission company just before 10 p.m.
Toronto Hydro’s online outage map was completely down at the blackout’s outset, replaced by a single line of text reading “Service Unavailable.”
By 10 p.m., however, it was back online and reporting thousands of customers without power from the Port Lands all the way to Downsview. Thousands of homes were also knocked out around York University and Willowdale.
Social media quickly lit up Tuesday night with photos of darkened urban areas illuminated only by emergency light and headlights.
The lights of the city’s downtown—including the CN Tower—largely continued to burn brightly throughout the outage, providing a stark contrast to affected areas just to the west.
Toronto Fire’s own Twitter account, meanwhile, pleaded with West Enders not to leave candles unattended and to turn off their stoves.
The blackout occurred at a particularly inopportune time for the city.
While Torontonians had enjoyed summertime temperatures over the weekend, they woke up Tuesday morning to a dusting of snow. Temperatures at the time of the outage hovered around -3 degrees Celsius.