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Fallen power lines in Helper start fire, knock out power

Fire fighters douse a small grass fire that had been touched off by the falling power lines and left a blackened trail near Balanced Rock.

By KEVIN SCANNELL Sun Advocate reporter

A broken transmission line in Helper started a small brush fire and left the city and other surrounding areas including Spring Glen without power for hours Friday evening.

The power lines went down on a hillside below Balanced Rock as residents heard a few loud explosions followed by the sight of fire and smoke.

The outage was caused by a broken transmission line that fell onto a lower voltage line running underneath it, according to Jeff Hymas, a spokesperson with Rocky Mountain Power.

The exact cause for the transmission line breaking was still unknown.

Helper resident Josh Spigarelli said he heard a loud boom and saw smoke arising from the area followed by another loud explosion. Smoke from the fire could be seen as far away as the highway.

"It was a really loud boom," said Spigarelli. "We then heard another loud boom and saw fire and smoke on the hillside."

Helper Fire Fighters and some nearby residents used shovels to put out hotspots in the areas near where the lines went down at about 6:15 p.m.

Gary Harwood, a captain with Helper Fire Department, said power in Helper was out from Roosevelt Street moving all the way east towards Spring Glen.

The outage knocked out power to 738 Rocky Mountain Power customers in Spring Glen starting at 7:45 p.m., according to Hymas.

Power was later restored to Spring Glen residents at 3:37 a.m., said Hymas.

Rocky Mountain Power provides service to areas including Spring Glen, while Helper has its own municipal power company.

Up to three transformers in the area blew up during the incident, according to authorities. Harwood said with the amount of damage done to the power lines, the work could take power crews up to eight hours to fix.

With the power going out some people were concerned for family members who require the use of oxygen machines. Generators were used to provide power until the new lines were installed bringing power back to the city.

A command post was set up at the Helper Fire station throughout the night until the power was restored, Harwood said.

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