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Toronto hit by blackout during queen's visit

A power outage hit much of Toronto after a fire at a transformer station Monday, snarling traffic but appearing to have little impact on financial markets.
Image: A pedestrian speaks to a Toronto police officer while directing traffic during a power outage in Toronto
Rishi Ghuldu, a pedestrian, speaks to a Toronto police officer while directing traffic during a power outage in Toronto on Monday. Peter Jones / Reuters
/ Source: msnbc.com news services

A fire at a Toronto transformer station knocked out power to part of the city Monday, snarling traffic in the midst of a blistering heat wave.

Hydro One, the provincial power company, said the blackout was due to a fire at a transformer station in west Toronto. About 250,000 homes were darkened, the Toronto Star reported.

By late Monday, power came back on for most of the city.

The outage, which brought back memories of the 2003 blackout that hit Toronto and much of the U.S. eastern seaboard, also affected power at the Fairmont Royal York hotel in downtown Toronto, briefly delaying a state dinner for visiting Queen Elizabeth.

The lights went out as Prince Philip began awarding the Duke of Edinburgh awards at the same hotel, the Globe and Mail newspaper reported. The emergency power kicked in, and Prince Philip soldiered on and presented the awards in the dimly lit room, joking with people in the audience.

The outage hit around 4:45 p.m. on the hottest day of the year so far in Toronto. By late afternoon, temperatures were still well above 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) in high humidity, prompting heavy use of air conditioners.

A power outage map on the website of Toronto Hydro showed much of the western half of Toronto affected by the power outage.

The blackout darkened screens on some trading floors of downtown banks and knocked out traffic lights, prompting some people to exit their cars and direct traffic.

Transit service was disrupted on both subway and surface bus and streetcar lines, the Toronto Transit Commission said.

Shaun Osborne, chief currency strategist at TD Securities, a unit of Toronto-Dominion Bank, said the outage had little impact on financial markets, due to the late hour. It was also a light trading day in Canada because of the U.S. Independence Day holiday.

"It's not the entire floor. Some people have lost power and other people haven't. We're probably pretty lucky in that it's a quiet afternoon," he said.

The power outage follows widespread disruption in the downtown core last week when rioting broke out during the G20 meeting of leaders of wealthy and developing countries.