Strange noises attracted Salt Lake County firefighters to a Kearns home Monday afternoon.

Loud "popping and crackling" sounds turned out to be the house's aluminum siding - charged with thousands of volts of electricity.Firefighters heard the sounds while investigating a fallen power line. The line, snapped by high winds that whipped the western portion of the state Monday, electrified a chain-link fence in a neighborhood located about 4800 South and 4100 West.

"They heard the noises and realized the entire outside of the house was electrified," Salt Lake Fire Lt. Dennis Steadman said.

Firefighters yelled to residents in the home, urging them not to come outside or touch aluminum screen doors on the house.

"There was so much electricity that some of the siding melted and turned brown," Steadman said. "Anybody touching it would have been electrocuted."

Strong winds that caused power outages in the area blew a piece of siding from a nearby home onto the power line about 12:30 p.m. The line arced with another line and fell onto the fence that touched the house. Electricity from the fence jumped to the siding on the house.

"It was the strangest thing. I've been on the job for 17 years and have never seen anything like this," Steadman said.

Deputy sheriffs and fire crews sealed the area while Utah Power & Light workers shut down power.

The residents of the home, 4144 W. 4835 South, waited for an hour before leaving the house. No injuries were reported.

Steadman said the house could have caught fire if "poor building materials were under the siding."

Six houses shared the electrified 4-foot fence. Residents were told not to touch the fence and, if possible, not to leave their homes until electricity was shut off, Steadman said.

Firefighters doused several small blazes that started when trash and weeds near the charged fence burst into flames.

After Monday's heavy winds and power outages, weather conditions should remain wintry Tuesday but improve by the Easter weekend, said William J. Alder, meteorologist in charge of the Salt Lake office of the National Weather Service.

A winter storm warning was issued for the mountains, with 4 to 8 inches of additional snow expected Tuesday. Snow showers were likely along the Wasatch Front through Tuesday night.

Temperatures were expected to reach the upper 40s with lows in the lower 30s Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday might bring widely scattered snow showers, but the "rest of the week looks good. . . . Southerly breezes could return Sunday, but it looks warm and dry with temperatures of about 60 degrees," Alder said.

The Salt Lake dispatch office of Utah Power & Light Co. could not be reached by telephone early Tuesday on the extent of the Monday power outages. But Alder said he understands outages occurred in a number of areas as heavy winds whipped the western part of the state and the mountains.

Thunderstorms and pea-sized hail occurred in various parts of the Salt Lake Valley and Utah County, and colder air accompanied the storm front.

New snow amounts Monday night: Duck Creek Village, located east of Cedar City, received 7 inches; Snow Basin, 4; Alta and Snowbird, an inch; Brian Head, 4 inches; Beaver Mountain in Logan Canyon, 11; Brighton, Deer Valley, Park West and Solitude, 3 inches; Park City, 2; and Powder Mountain, 5.

Water amounts included 0.21 of an inch at Hurricane, and 0.92 at Duck Creek.


(Additional information)

Wind whips Wasatch

Kearns 69 mph

Salt Lake airport 58 mph

Wendover 48 mph

Dugway 44 mph

Cedar City 42 mph

West Valley City 58 mph

Holladay 42 mph~