December 21, 2018 9:57 pm
Updated: December 22, 2018 12:27 am

‘Mind-boggling, the stupidity’: Frustration as drivers ignore downed wires, storm closures

WATCH: Careless drivers ignore dangers of downed power lines and other hazards


Firefighters and BC Hydro are expressing frustration over the behaviour of some drivers in the wake of Thursday’s powerful windstorm.

In one incident witnessed by Global News at Dunbar Street and Southwest Marine Drive, an impatient Jaguar driver pulled up to a clearly closed street, moved traffic cones and tape and drove on towards downed wires.

WATCH: Severe BC windstorm leaves major mess, power outages

He was stopped by firefighters working the scene.

“It’s just mind-boggling, the stupidity of people sometimes,” Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said, when told of the scenario.

READ MORE: Vancouver Island cleanup continues after intense windstorm sweeps across region

But for Vancouver firefighters, it’s unfortunately par for the course — and not just involving power lines.

“I would love to say that I’m surprised. But I think we both know that this is a recurring problem,” said Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services Capt. Jonathan Gormick.

Indeed, there have been several recent incidents involving drivers entering active scenes and driving over hoses. In one case, a firefighter was hurt.

WATCH: Global News exclusive: Man rescued from White Rock pier shares his story

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The recurring problem has prompted firefighters to push for higher fines for motorists who drive over their hoses.

But Thursday’s incident wasn’t the only one involving a motorist and downed wires.

READ MORE: Tens of thousands without power in aftermath of B.C. windstorm

“I’m aware of a situation on Vancouver Island [Thursday] where there was something similar: wires down, trees down and people were driving over downed wires,” said BC Hydro senior vice president of safety David Lebeter.

“Please don’t do that. Stay 10 metres back.”

That may sound like common sense, but a recent survey by BC Hydro found that it is nothing of the sort.

WATCH: B.C.’s South Coast digs out from windstorm

In fact, it found 60 per cent of people do not know to call 911 when they see a downed wire, and 35 per cent wrongly think such wires will always create smoke or a buzzing noise.

The driver that Global News witnessed on Thursday got away with a warning. There were no police on site to hand him the $121 ticket for such an infraction.

READ MORE: Man rescued from partially collapsed White Rock pier

That fine could well rise in the future if the issue remains persistent, according to Farnworth.

“You’d like to think that education works. And you can’t legislate stupid,” he said.

“Sometimes, you gotta hit stupid in the back pocket with a hefty fine. It may be time, when you see these kind of situations, to say, ‘You know what? If the only thing you understand is a hefty fine then maybe that’s what is going to be put in place.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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