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Underground explosion in downtown Vancouver caused by electrical faults: officials

Click to play video: 'Video shows aftermath of explosion under Vancouver bridge' Video shows aftermath of explosion under Vancouver bridge
Video sent to Global News show Vancouver fire crews on scene after they were called to attend an explosion and car fire under the Granville Street Bridge. – Jan 5, 2021

An underground explosion in downtown Vancouver Tuesday afternoon was caused by electrical faults by failing cables, Vancouver Fire Rescue Services (VFRS) said.

The explosion, which happened at approximately 3 p.m. Tuesday in the area of Granville Street and Pacific Avenue cracked and displaced large pieces of the sidewalk and damaged several vehicles parked nearby.

VFRS said Wednesday it appeared the electrical faults started a vehicle fire after a utility access cover below the vehicle caught fire. 

The subsequent large electrical arc within a confined space resulted in the explosion, VFRS confirmed.

A BC Hydro engineering team has been on-site Wednesday investigating what happened.

A spokesperson said the investigation is still underway into what happened but said an explosion like this “is completely out of character for a typical electrical fault.”

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They also confirmed BC Hydro does not have high voltage cables in that vault so they need to talk to VFRS about their findings.

Click to play video: 'Investigation underway into Vancouver blast that caused considerable damage' Investigation underway into Vancouver blast that caused considerable damage
Investigation underway into Vancouver blast that caused considerable damage – Jan 6, 2021

Read more: Vancouver fire crews called to reported explosion in underground utility vault

A repeat of 2008 incident in downtown Vancouver, which was caused by a failed splice in a cable at an underground vault and triggered a massive power outage, is not what happened Tuesday, BC Hydro said.

The 2008 incident damaged 14 circuits inside the underground vault and the fire shut off power to buildings in a five-mile radius.

Fortis BC has confirmed the incident Tuesday did not involve natural gas.

Fortunately, no one was injured in either the vehicle fire or explosion, VFRS said, and traffic between Pacific Avenue and Beach Avenue on Granville Street may be affected during the clean-up and repair process.

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Cars damaged in the explosion in downtown Vancouver Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. Credit: Sergio Magro / Global News.
Damage to the concrete sidewalk in downtown Vancouver following an explosion on Jan. 5, 2021. Credit: Sergio Magro / Global News.
Vancouver Fire Rescue Services on scene in downtown Vancouver following reports of an explosion Jan. 5, 2021. Credit: Sergio Magro / Global News. Sergio Magro / Global News

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