A bunch of metallic mylar birthday balloons became tangled in some power lines Wednesday afternoon and caused a power outage in Tooele City.
The outage lasted for about an hour and affected several downtown businesses and offices, including Tooele City Hall, which continued to hold regularly scheduled public meetings despite the loss of power. Other downtown offices opted to close for the day.
The outage also cut power to a traffic light at the intersection of Vine Street and Main Street, causing early rush-hour traffic to back up for a time.
A Rocky Mountain Power employee was able to safely remove the balloons and replace a damaged fuse on the line, restoring power about an hour after the incident, said Jeff Hymas, Rocky Mountain Power spokesman.
The outage served as an important safety reminder, Hymas added. The metallic surface on the outside of mylar balloons conducts electricity. When they contacted some power lines near Vine and Garden Streets, the balloons caused a power surge that overloaded a nearby fuse — a protective device that operates in a manner similar to a circuit breaker.
To prevent these kinds of incidents, residents who decide to use mylar balloons outdoors at a party or any other kind of event should always ensure the balloons are firmly tethered to the ground, Hymas said.
Additionally, with the warmer weather, Hymas said he wanted to remind all residents to be aware of the location of power lines whenever they play with balloons, fly a kite, or use any other tall object that might make contact with power lines.
As a safety precaution, these kinds of objects need to be kept at least 10 feet away from power lines, he said. Residents should not attempt to remove any object that becomes tangled in power lines, he added.
For more information about power line safety, go to rockymountainpower.net/safety.