'A real challenge': KW Hydro crews deal with extreme cold while making repairs

Kitchener residents scrambled to stay warm Friday night, as a power outage left thousands of customers without heat in the midst of an extreme cold warning.

Kitchener resident Stephanie Heyl said her home on Edna Street lost power for just over an hour.

"Lots of candles, blankets. We sat in the living room, it seemed to be the warmest part of the house," Heyl said.

According to Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro, equipment failure initially left 2,880 customers without power.

"We don't know what caused the damage equipment. It was a broken crossarm and it brought down a conductor. So they had to rebuild that section of the pool to get it back on," Kelly McMath, a Communications Specialist for Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro Inc. told CTV News.

Around 7:30 p.m. Friday, KW Hydro tweeted that crews were responding to the affected area. McMath said power was restored for 80 per cent of customers by 7:40 p.m.

"I'm glad that they were able to get it back up quickly. I hope it doesn't happen again, but when it's this cold, you never know how the equipment is even in this day in age," Heyl said.

The Rosemount area was in the dark until around 11:30 p.m. Power for eight customers in the Westheights area didn’t return until 4 a.m., because of a blown underground transformer.

McMath said the weather made it hard to make repairs both above and underground.

"Crews are up in bucket trucks and with the wind and the cold and the length of time that they had to be out there, it is a real challenge. They have to take frequent breaks to warm up," McMath said.

KW Hydro is reminding residents of the importance of being prepared for an outage at any time

"In the wintertime what's really important is to have blankets and warm clothing, coats, hats, mitts, anything that they might need to keep themselves warm," McMath said.

Equipment such as charcoal, propane or gas barbecues, heaters for camping and home generators are not safe to use indoors as they can give off carbon monoxide.