Hydro faces logistical challenge to restore Puk’s power

Generators to be used so northern fire evacuees can return

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Manitoba Hydro is sending two large industrial generators to Pukatawagan to restore electricity so about 2,000 residents displaced by forest fires can return home while repairs are carried out.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/07/2022 (195 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Manitoba Hydro is sending two large industrial generators to Pukatawagan to restore electricity so about 2,000 residents displaced by forest fires can return home while repairs are carried out.

A temporary supply is needed in the remote community, located 820 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, because a kilometres-long stretch of a power line was damaged by fire.

Workers will replace nearly 80 wooden poles in a project that will take some time to complete because there is no road access and the terrain includes steep cliffs and marsh.

Fire damaged nearly 80 wooden hydro poles. (Supplied / Manitoba Hydro)

“We have to get everything at one place at one time, so the generators can be set up and start running,” said Hydro spokesman Bruce Owen. “You’re almost looking at Canadian Shield country. Many of these poles have to be set in rock, which involves drilling.”

Residents of Mathias Colomb Cree Nation, which includes Pukatawagan, are not expected to begin returning home until the second week of August, the Crown corporation said Thursday.

The 1,500-kilowatt diesel generators are being shipped to the northern community by train from Alberta because they are too large and too heavy to be transported by air.

Fuel, replacement poles and material needed to rebuild the power line are being shipped by rail via Winnipeg and The Pas.

Hydro officials expressed relief the rail line wasn’t damaged by fire.

Given the remote location, helicopters will be used to transport workers and equipment to the site. Helipads will have to be cut along the length of the Hydro line, said Owen.

Lodging needs to be arranged for crews. A temporary camp set up for a different project in the area is available, while another option is fishing camps, said Owen.

(Supplied / Manitoba Hydro)

The generators will be used until the power line is rebuilt and all repairs are finished.

About 2,000 people were forced to leave Pukatawagan on July 14 because of the threat of multiple wildfires burning nearby.

More than 1,850 evacuees are staying in hotels in Winnipeg, Brandon, Thompson and The Pas, said Jason Small, a spokesman for the Canadian Red Cross in Manitoba.

Although firefighters are working on a fire line that is less than one kilometre from Pukatawagan, the blaze is not considered a threat at this time, a spokesman for the province said Thursday.

The fire is almost 53,000 hectares in size.

“Cooler temperatures and some rain in the area have helped the situation and water bombers from Northwest Territories that had been helping out have returned home,” the spokesman wrote in an email. “Firefighters from Ontario continue to assist, but may return home in the coming days.”

(Supplied / Manitoba Hydro)

He said no new fires were reported in the 24 hours up to Thursday morning, when a total of 42 were burning in the province.

chris.kitching@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @chriskitching

Chris Kitching
Reporter

As a general assignment reporter, Chris covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.

History

Updated on Thursday, July 28, 2022 11:36 AM CDT: Corrects reference to kilowatts

Updated on Thursday, July 28, 2022 11:36 AM CDT: Corrects reference to kilowatts

Updated on Thursday, July 28, 2022 11:36 AM CDT: Corrects reference to kilowatts

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