Yurt dweller narrowly escapes falling tree; canoe lands on home's roof in Saanichton

Ron Beland isn’t too keen on the word “luck,” preferring “fate” or “destiny” to explain what delivered him uninjured from the huge tree that smashed his Stadacona Park shelter during a fierce windstorm overnight Tuesday.

The tree came down about 1 a.m., narrowly missing another shelter, as well — although the person living there was away.

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Beland said he was fast asleep when his stick-frame yurt was clobbered by the tree’s large branches, piercing the exterior.

“Three feet it missed me by.”

Amid the noise of the wind and heavy rain, he said he could hear little before the sound of the yurt being torn “and then the thump of that thing hitting the ground.”

“It was like the loudest gunshot you ever heard in the world,” said Beland, who had recently moved to the spot because of concerns about another tree.

Victoria police responded to the near miss and ensured that everyone was safe.

There were also no injuries in another incident where three trees fell on a Sooke house, causing “considerable damage,” according to Sooke communications co-ordinator Christina Moog.

She said the residents of the home are staying with family members.

Also in the Sooke area, trees were down at the Roche Cove Bridge and along East Sooke road to Gillespie Road. Sooke Potholes was closed due to downed power lines and trees.

Oak Bay fire crews were called when power lines ignited a tree early Wednesday.

In Saanichton, Sharry Payne snapped a picture of a neighbour’s canoe that had somewhow been blown onto her sister’s roof.

Payne said it made “a perfect 10 out of 10 landing.”

Power outages affected more than 20,000 B.C. Hydro customers on the south Island.

B.C. Hydro reported 21,679 south Island customers without power as of 8 a.m. in areas that included Central Saanich, Duncan, the Gulf Islands, Langford, Metchosin, North Cowichan, Saanich, Sooke and Victoria.

By 11:30 a.m., about 15,000 customers on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands — primarily in Victoria and Duncan — were still without power, according to Scott Mora, spokesman for B.C. Hydro.

Power was also out in Tofino, Port Alberni, Nanaimo and Ladysmith.

The number of south Island customers affected by outages had been pared to about 6,500 by late Wednesday afternoon.

B.C. Hydro said more than 100,000 customers in the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the southern Interior were without power Wednesday morning. The hardest-hit areas were Abbotsford, Victoria and Vernon.

Local schools were affected, with power out at both John Muir and Prospect Lake elementaries, which remained open on Wednesday. Power was also out at Kelset Elementary but restored in time for classes, while Strawberry Vale Elementary had no power in the morning.

The Sooke School District warned of delays in bus service to some areas on Wednesday because of blocked roads, while B.C. Transit reported detours on several Greater Victoria routes due to fallen trees.

Several roads were closed due to downed hydro lines, including along Shawnigan Lake Road between Stebbings and Skylar Circle, and Renfrew and Highland Ridge roads, and Highway 14 between Sooke and Port Renfrew.

B.C. Ferries cancelled two morning trips on the Tsawwassen-Duke Point run.

Areas of Greater Victoria near Juan de Fuca Strait experienced westerly winds of 70 kilometres an hour on Wednesday, according to Environment Canada.

Gusts of up to 120 km/h were measured at Trial Island through a University of Victoria system. While 120 km/h is in the hurricane range (119 to 153 for a Category 1 hurricane), the winds on Trial Island were not sustained, as hurricanes are required to be.

Wind speeds of 107 were recorded at Gonzales.

jwbell@timescolonist.com

— With a file from Cindy E. Harnett

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