Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah
image A power outage in downtown Tooele caused some headaches for local businesses and drivers Wednesday afternoon.

March 20, 2014
Birthday party balloons cause one-hour power outage in Tooele City

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. 

Emma Penrod

Staff Writer at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Emma Penrod is a staff writer for the Tooele Transcript-Bulletin and covers Tooele City government, religion, health, the environment, ethnic issues and public infrastructure. A Tooele native, Penrod graduated from Tooele High School in 2010. She holds an associates degree from Utah State University, and a bachelor’s degree in communications from Brigham Young University. She worked for the newspaper as a high school intern starting in 2008. In 2010 she began working full-time in the newsroom until she left for college later that year. While at BYU, Penrod worked as a writer and editor for a small health magazine in Utah County. She interned with The Riverdale Press, a community newspaper in the Bronx, NY and with the Deseret News. She is also the author of two non-fiction books.

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