Electrical fire closes Vancouver-area bridge, darkens part of new Westminster

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An electronic sign shows off advertising beside the Queensborough Bridge in New Westminstern April 9, 2013.
Photograph By ARLEN REDEKOP

NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. – Officials in New Westminster, B.C., are scrambling to assess the damage after an overnight fire destroyed high voltage electrical cables attached to a local bridge, setting off commuter chaos.

The blaze early Wednesday morning forced the closure of the Queensborough Bridge, which connects New Westminster to Highway 91, a key commuter link in Metro Vancouver.

Mayor Jonathan Cote says the fire did not cause structural damage to the bridge and it’s expected it will be partially reopened to traffic sometime in the afternoon.

The fire did damage power lines, knocking out electricity to the Queensborough community, shutting down schools and businesses and affecting about 20,000 people living in the neighbourhood.

The City of New Westminster manages its own electrical utility, and Cote says it’s unclear how long it will take to restore power to Queensborough.

Rod Carle, head of the city’s electrical utility, says crew are assessing the damage to determine if power lines can be repaired, rerouted from the other side of the bridge or if they will need to install temporary power lines.

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