Deadly North Vancouver dam had no warning siren, 1 man still missing: officials

Click to play video: 'One person killed after sudden water release from North Vancouver dam into Capilano River'
One person killed after sudden water release from North Vancouver dam into Capilano River
One person has been killed after several people were swept away when the gates of North Vancouver's Cleveland Dam were suddenly opened. Aaron McArthur reports – Oct 2, 2020

One man remained unaccounted for Friday, as officials confirmed there was no “public facing” alarm that could have warned people about the unplanned release of a large volume of water from the Cleveland Dam the day before.

The incident, which happened around 2 p.m., flooded the Capilano River and left one man dead. RCMP say four others were rescued or managed to escape.

“My understanding is that there is no alarm on the dam that is a public address-type system for people near the dam,” Jerry Dobrovolny, commissioner of the Metro Vancouver regional district said in a news conference.

“There is a telemetry system that sends information to our control room, which is over at the Seymour Dam.”

Metro Vancouver officials say the rapid release of water at the Cleveland Dam Thursday was not supposed to happen.

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The spillway gate released a large volume of water during regular maintenance at the dam, flooding the Capilano River and pulling at least five people into the water.

On Friday afternoon, the RCMP confirmed they believe another man remains missing. Search-and-rescue crews had completed a sweep of the river valley and come up empty handed, said Sgt. Peter DeVries.

Vancouver police and RCMP marine units, along with the RCMP dive team had expanded the search to Burrard Inlet, he said.

Metro Vancouver officials have launched an investigation into how the water was released from the dam, though said it was related to a maintenance issue.

“There was no problem or failure or breach at the dam itself,” Dobrovolny said.

Read more: Crews search for missing person after dam opened during maintenance, flooding Capilano River

“The dam is safe, there are no structural issues.”

The gate, which controls the flow of water over the spillway, was lowered rapidly, changing the flow of the river.

The spillway gate is now locked and Dobrovolny said it will likely remain locked throughout the winter.

“The flow that hit yesterday wasn’t much different than the flow we had in September during heavy rainstorms,” Dobrovolny said.

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“The issue was the rapid change.”

Click to play video: 'Video shows fast-moving water flowing through North Vancouver’s Cleveland Dam'
Video shows fast-moving water flowing through North Vancouver’s Cleveland Dam

People who were fishing in the river reported hearing the water coming through the canyon like a freight train, with no warning.

“We have signs up and down the river bank to warn the public about the fast-flowing river but obviously the rapid change that happened yesterday was not intended to be covered by that,” Dobrovolny said.

The BC Coroners Service is also investigating the incident.

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