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Dept. of Labour rules crane out of service after electricity lights up Halifax sky

Construction halted at Halifax condo development after crane shoots sparks into night sky
WATCH: Sparks fly from a tower crane in downtown Halifax on Tuesday night. A Department of Labour inspection into the incident continues.

Dramatic video of a towering construction crane bursting with electrical sparks lit up the sky in Halifax on Tuesday and was the talk of the town come Wednesday morning.

A crane was left spiralling in the high winds at 1447 Dresden Row when bright bursts of light exploded towards the top of the tower, which lit up the area and caught the attention of nearby residents.

READ MORE: Mainland Nova Scotia crane operators, heavy-equipment operators go on strike

Chris Breckenridge lives on Clyde Street next to the worksite and was watching television when he heard a low bang and saw flashes of light radiating through his living room curtains.

“It looked like fireworks coming from it,” said Breckenridge, who then called 911.

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The incident happened just before 9 p.m.

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Halifax firefighters arrived on the scene and closed off the adjacent streets, including Dresden Row as well as Birmingham and Clyde streets, while police dispatched Nova Scotia Power to assist at the scene.

While the power company was en route, a site supervisor with the construction company arrived on the scene and cut power to the crane, said Nova Scotia Power communications manager David Rodenhiser.

No customers were affected by power outages, nor was there any damage reported to the electrical supply system.

READ MORE: Crane topples at Vancouver container terminal

According to Environment Canada, wind gusts reached up to 77 km/h on Tuesday night.

One nearby resident said he had seen the crane spin — but never like this.

“Normally, it’s like our wind vane, and we look out and we can see which way the wind blows, and it will gently swing back and forth,” said Mitch Clarke, who lives in a condo nearby and saw the flash of light through his window.

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“But last night, it seemed the wind was variable enough that the crane was actually going around 360.”

The construction site was quiet Wednesday, as the Department of Labour inspected the overnight incident and ruled the crane out of service while repairs are completed.

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The department issued two other orders to ensure the repairs, when complete, are inspected “by a competent person before returning it to service,” while mandating the employer develop safety instructions to prevent a re-occurrence of the incident.

The department’s inspection is ongoing.

The Banc Group is building a nine-storey residential building on the site, and the main level, which will be committed to commercial units, called The Margaretta.

It’s estimated that the City of Halifax has 15 licensed tower cranes in operation in the region at this time, with the majority of those operating in the downtown core.