With a sixth power meter fire on a Regina home in the past two weeks, SaskPower is focusing all its efforts on continuing home inspections.
The extreme dry conditions are causing the clay-soil in Regina to shift, which has been pulling underground cables out of power boxes on homes, especially ones with underground service built in the 1960’s or 1970’s.
Older homes have copper wire used in their service lines, copper will not melt like the aluminum lines in new homes does, and the copper wire will keep conducting electricity even when it’s under stress from ground shifting which is the main cause of the fires.
Spokesman for SaskPower, Jonathan Tremblay said on Tuesday, 800 homes have needed repairs out of the 2,000 they have inspected so far.
Tremblay added ground shifting is something they do see on a regular basis, especially in the spring time, but never to this extreme.
“However that is a shifting that goes back and forth, this is a different type of shifting we’ve been seeing where the extreme dryness is literally compacting the earth, it is going down and away from the house. So that is a pulling motion, there is some slack in the line for that to happen, but there certainly isn’t six to eight inches of it where we’ve been seeing in some areas,” Tremblay told reporters.
SaskPower has also begun inspections in Moose Jaw and may expand those to include Shaunavon and Kindersley, where conditions and soil are similar to Regina and Moose Jaw.
“We are seeing some of these conditions elsewhere in southern Saskatchewan. These are areas that have the same type of clay soil as Regina and areas that have had almost no rain fall in the past few months,” said Tremblay.
In Regina the areas of main concern are Glencairn, Uplands and Normanview, where around 9,000 homes have the underground copper wire service, however inspections are beginning to take place all over the city, with Monday’s meter fire taking place in the Walsh Acres area.
Tremblay also said SaskPower will be footing the electrical repair costs, but will first investigate fire damage before they decide if that will be covered by them as well.
He added ground shifting of this magnitude is extremely rare, calling it a one in 130 year event.