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Strong winds, lightning spark fires across Wasatch Front


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Update: As of Thursday morning, 1,100 Rocky Mountain Power customers were still without power.SALT LAKE CITY -- Strong winds knocked down power lines that ignited fires and put hundreds of Utahns in the dark Wednesday night. The storm kept firefighters busy across the Wasatch Front, and for one man it was literally shocking.

"My mom said she felt the house shake, and my neighbors say the lightning bolt came right here," Jared Neilson said.

The lightning was too close for comfort. Neilson doesn't know exactly what happened, but he sure felt it.

"It just happened so fast. It was like, ‘bzzzt!' he said.

When the rain fell over his house in Magna, Neilson went outside to roll up the car windows. Then he felt a powerful surge of electricity.

"I just felt the surge go through my fingers, come through my body, and the most vivid was just coming right out my heal and just hitting the ground. Just, "Boom!" And it was like, just a punch," Neilson said.

In the Salt Lake Valley, the storm knocked out power and toppled a tree in a Taylorsville neighborhood near 3500 West and 5400 South.

Powerful winds also tipped over a power pole near 4700 South and 5300 West, and in Midvale the situation was worse.

"The wind came up, and a line started shorting and bouncing back and forth, and lots of pops like firecrackers going off," neighbor Robert Thompson said.

A power line fell on the roof of a house near 7600 South and 300 West, shorted and caused a fire in the garage. Neighbors got the woman who lives there out of the house.

Another fire started in a field near 2200 South and 600 East when the wind blew out a transformer.

"I was sitting in my house and, all of a sudden, there was a loud bang. And for a few seconds, the power went out," neighbor Michael Reed said.

The storm caused scattered power outages in Salt Lake and Utah Counties. Rocky Mountain Power says, as of 9:30 Wednesday night, 2,800 people in the Salt Lake Valley were still without power.

E-mail: syi@ksl.com

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