Exotic birds and plants helped by Vancouver firefighters during power outage

Vancouver firefighters help keep exotic birds and plants at the Bloedel Conservatory cool using an aerial truck after a power outage. (John Coupar)

A power outage on Thursday at the Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Park brought out firefighters to help keep the resident exotic birds and plants cool.

The power went out at about 3 a.m. and initially, a generator helped keep the dome cool inside. But as the temperature rose outside, the conservatory called in the fire department to help out.

An engine with four firefighters arrived on scene in the park at about 9:30 a.m. Later, a second aerial truck had to be brought in because the engine’s water stream was too strong for the conservatory’s domed roof.

“We didn’t want to damage the roof,” Assistant Fire Chief Brian Bertuzzi told CTV News.

The aerial truck arrived at about 11 a.m. and immediately started misting the roof with water to keep the exotic birds and plants inside cool. Bertuzzi compared the misting to the setup firefighters use for kids at water parks.

The misting had to be done in five minute intervals because the drainage under the conservatory was being overwhelmed. In all, firefighters were on scene for five hours.

Bertuzzi called the call “pretty rare.”

Emily Schultz, from the Bloedel Conservatory agreed. She says in her seven years with the conservatory, she’s never seen a power outage.

Along with the cooling work being done outside, inside staff were also working to hose down the pathways under the dome to try to lower the temperatures, Schultz told CTV News.

Twelve of the larger birds, including parrots and cockatiels, had to be put in cages and taken to a cooler back room.

“The birds were fine but they were much more talkative than usual given the unusual conditions,” said Schultz who wished she had taken video of all the sounds.

“We thank the firefighters for their help,” added Schultz who says all the birds and exotic plants emerged unscathed. The power was restored by 5 p.m., 14 hours after it went out.

The outage forced the conservatory to close for the day on Thursday, according to a tweet. It has since reopened.

The Bloedel Conservatory houses 150 free-flying exotic birds and 500 exotic plants and flowers, according to its Twitter page.