Raccoon shocks downtown Toronto, causes power outage

Feb 6, 2024 | Canadian News, News

An unexpected power outage in downtown Toronto was caused by the city’s unofficial mascot, a raccoon.

The incident affected around 7,000 Hydro One customers in their homes last Thursday at 7:40 p.m. Hydro crews restored power at about 10:20 p.m.

Hydro One, Ontario’s largest electricity transmission and distribution service provider, said in a tweet that a raccoon made contact with the transmission system, causing the failure.

Those affected also experienced a complete shutdown of water.

The blackout affected the area roughly bounded by St. Clair Avenue West to Gerrard Street and Avenue Road to Don Valley Parkway, said Daniel McNeil, corporate spokesperson for Toronto Hydro, in an email.

Saba Bapunashvili, a Humber College student living on Ontario Street with his brother Gegi, a student at Seneca Polytechnic in North York, travelled to Mississauga to stay at their parents’ home because there was no electricity and water.

“Since we weren’t expecting this, we had no drinking water stored,” Saba said.

“The food we had bought a couple of days ago is going to go bad by the morning. We are getting thirsty, obviously,” Gegi said.

“We can’t take the TTC due to the outage and thus we are spending more by taking Lyft to Mississauga,” he said.

“All the stores on Sherbourne are closed right now,” Gegi said.

Grocery shops had to shut down due to power outage. 
Photograph of a closed FreshCo grocery store at Sherbourne and Isabella.

A Toronto grocery store was forced to close because of the power outage caused by a raccoon on Feb. 1. Photo credit: Abhijit Alka Anil

The TTC said in a tweet it shut down subway service between Union and Bloor-Yonge stations due to the power failure.

Saba said he was studying for a test he had the next day at Humber when the power went out.

“If I get bad marks on my test, I am going to ask for an excuse from my professor, but if I pass, I am not going to say anything,” he said.

Joshua Okoli, 11, said he had a science project that he couldn’t finish due to the outage.

“It is the first time I experienced a blackout, and I am pretty nervous about it,” he said. “I wanted to communicate with my friends to see how they’re doing.”

Power outage affecting residential buildings at St. James Ave.

Power outage affecting residential buildings in and around 650 Parliament Street on Feb. 1. The power outage was caused by a raccoon, Hydro One said. Photo credit: Abhijit Alka Anil

His sister Janelle, 12, felt the outage was creepy but cool as she had never seen the building hallways dark.

“The blackout is interfering with my life. I can’t send snaps to my friends and talk to them” because she didn’t have access to her data, she said.

Jonathan Okoli, the elder brother of Joshua and Janelle, said they went to their aunt’s home near the waterfront by Uber.

Captain Deepak Chagger, a public information officer for Toronto Fire, said in a phone interview that elevator rescues were mainly from the outage areas between 7:45 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.

Firefighters handled 12 simultaneous calls for 16 stalled elevators at residential buildings, with some having multiple elevators from the affected areas.

“About 20 to 30 people were rescued from those 16 elevator responses,” Chagger said.