Blackout in Calgary: timeline of events

Blackout in Calgary from 2014

On Saturday, October 11, 2014 Calgary suffered a blackout as a result of an underground electrical fire located on 8 Street SW between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue. The following is a rough timeline of the events as we saw them, living directly beside it.

8:17 pm: Honking heard from outside. Found streetlights on 8 street SW were malfunctioning from 4 Avenue to 10th Avenue. Some lights all green, others all red, some flashing, one completely dark. We called the non-emergency Calgary Police line to report it. Police and transit on scene immediately to direct traffic.

Blackout traffic

6th avenue traffic

Blackout traffic

Traffic lights out along 5th avenue

 8:18 pm: Calgary Transit tweets they are aware of traffic lights out.

8:21 pm: Calgary Fire Department on scene.

Blackout traffic

CFD shows up

8:23pm: Surrounding buildings report loss of Shaw services.

8:31pm: Firefighters descend into manhole to investigate. (Did not witness them leave the manhole)

8:40pm: ENMAX on site.

Blackout traffic

6th avenue and 8th street sw

9:09 pm: Loud explosion heard, small amount of smoke visible from uncovered manhole.

Blackout traffic

9:12 pm: ENMAX and Calgary Fire Department reverse to a safe distance from smoking manhole.

Blackout traffic

9:24 pm: More explosions heard, smoke intensifies.

9:39 pm: Burning plastic smell prominent.

9:40 pm: CFD battalion chief arrive (two vehicles).

Blackout traffic

9:45 pm: Smoke intensifies.

Blackout traffic

more smokes.

9:48 pm: Multiple explosions.

Blackout traffic

Getting hazy.. we started breathing through cloth.

9:51 pm: Multiple explosions accompanied black, acrid smoke. (Placed bandanas and towels over our faces).

Blackout traffic

9:53 pm: Power lost in the area and alarms heard sounding in surrounding buildings.

Blackout traffic

6th avenue runs directly down the middle of this photo.

9:57 pm: ENMAX tweets awareness of the situation.

9:58 pm: Calgary Police Services tweets awareness of ENMAX issue.

10:01 pm: Power back on.

Blackout traffic

Yey power!

10:02 pm: Power lost for good.

Blackout traffic

aaand it’s gone.

10:06 pm: Flames visible in the manhole.

Blackout smoke

Some blue fire

10:08 pm: Massive CFD engine response. Counted 15 that we could see on 8 street as well as 6 Avenue SW.


Along 6th avenue


8th street

10:14 pm: Conducted telephone interview with 660 News about what we were seeing.

10:21 pm: Smoke and flames intensify. CFD vehicles move to a safer distance.


10:34 pm: Mayor Naheed Nenshi tweets awareness of the situation.

10:38 pm: Calgary Fire Department tweets awareness of situation.

10:42 pm: CFD starts placing hoses out in anticipation of spraying fire retardant.


10:46 pm: CFD sprays fire retardant.



11:09 pm: Fire declared out and spraying is complete.


CFD win!

11:39 pm: Smoke sets off alarm in the basement of the East Calgary Place tower, putting both towers in alarm.

11:42 pm: Smoke no longer coming from manhole. Area filled with white fire retardant.

Blackout timeline

Finally out and over.

11:52 pm: Calgary Place alarm silenced.

12:00 am: Investigation begins.

Blackout video

Here is a compilation of all the videos that we recorded with our camcorder during the emergency. Not all clips are in the right order but we had to work fast with a generator to get this post accomplished. – Mrs & Mr. Crackmacs <3

Blackout: Evacuation

This notice came over our in-suite intercom multiple times, warning us to evacuate or be prepared to evacuate if it becomes mandatory.

Blackout update/conclusion:

Investigators believe the origin of the fire was a relay used to control street lights. Due to the extent of the damage caused by the fire and a subsequent blaze a few hours later, investigators cannot determine what caused the relay failure.


There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Chris at 8:04 am

    Great coverage. The both of you handled this like champs as always.

    Walking the streets in the immediate aftermath was unreal.

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