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BC Hydro to decommission 2 electrical vaults following explosion in Vancouver

Smoke fills the air near Burrard and West Hastings streets as emergency crews respond to a fire caused by an electrical explosion in downtown Vancouver on Feb. 24. (Nick Allan/CBC - image credit)
Smoke fills the air near Burrard and West Hastings streets as emergency crews respond to a fire caused by an electrical explosion in downtown Vancouver on Feb. 24. (Nick Allan/CBC - image credit)

BC Hydro is set to decommission a pair of electrical vaults in Vancouver that used similar equipment to the vault that exploded last month, injuring two people and damaging the Marine building.

BC Hydro says a "complex investigation" is still underway into the February explosion, and is expected to last through the end of April.

Spokesperson Kyle Donaldson says the two soon-to-be decommissioned electrical vaults have been operating safely and reliably for a long time, but the corporation decided to take them offline out of an abundance of caution.

"We want to assure the public this was a rare occurrence and we place a high priority on ensuring our electrical equipment continues to be safe and reliable," Donaldson said in a statement.

"We regularly inspect and routinely maintain our equipment and infrastructure throughout B.C."

One of the vaults, in the West End, will be taken offline this weekend and the second vault, located in Chinatown, will be decommissioned by the end of the month.

Donaldson says there will be planned power outages for about 600 customers as the electrical vaults are decommissioned.

"We know power outages are frustrating and we apologize for the inconvenience," said Donaldson.

Electrical vaults are located underground and store electrical equipment.

Witnesses saw a large fireball

On Feb. 24, the electrical vault under Burrard Street and in front of the Marine Building exploded. Witnesses reported hearing a loud boom and seeing a large fireball.

Emergency crews on-scene treated two people with facial lacerations and burns.

Several businesses remain closed due to damage.

"We have reached out to the affected businesses to discuss the process for how claims can be submitted," said Donaldson.

"And, we're committed to working with these businesses or their insurance companies during the claims process."