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Storm topples dozen hydro poles on Warden in Markham

Strong winds toppled about a dozen hydro poles on a busy stretch of Warden Avenue in Markham during Tuesday’s severe thunderstorm, trapping as many as 30 vehicles until help arrived.

Drivers and passengers, who were trapped in their cars on Warden between Steeles Avenue East and Denison Street until the wires were disconnected by PowerStream hydro workers, said it looked like fireworks when the poles tipped over like dominoes.

“The wind started blowing real strong and all of a sudden you see the poles start coming down all across the road and one smashed through my windshield and sparks started flying. And basically all you saw is power lines all around you,” driver Areg Haroutunian said.

Another driver Stephen Liu said, “I’ve never been in a situation like this, and I think just the moment the wind hit and everything snapped and fell on top of my vehicle — the wires and you see the sparks — it just kind of makes you feel like, ‘Oh man, am I going to die right now?’”

One witness Shaharyar Sinhdu said the drivers were stuck for a long time, including one woman who was trapped in her vehicle for 2.5 hours.

“She actually had the poles fall on the roof right behind her and it was on top of the car. It was one of the craziest ones,” he said.

A BMW SUV suffered the most severe damage after a pole pierced the top of the vehicle and caused the interior roof to cave in. Two passengers were sitting in the back, including a pregnant woman, but luckily no one was seriously injured.

PowerStream said the utility has 40 crews working day and night to install new poles and wires and get the street back on the grid.

“We expect to have the pole line reset within the next two days and re-energize the service in that time frame,” the hydro worker said.