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Power Line Fire Sparked By Fallen Tree Limb Weighted With Snow

By Kelly Werthmann

LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) - When heavy snow became too much to handle for trees in Jim Conley's backyard, some branches snapped and fell onto power lines, sparking an intense fire.

"That tree just literally burst into flame right behind the chicken house there," Conley told CBS4's Kelly Werthmann.

Conley said it was his dogs that alerted him to the fiery scene when they began barking at the window that looks out onto his backyard in Lakewood.

"We were scared to pretty much touch anything with all this snow and wetness and electricity," Conley said. "It was just like wow, what do you do?"

Firefighters with West Metro Fire arrived to extinguish the flames and save Conley's property. They also helped evacuate 19 chickens from their small home which sits just inches from the 70-foot tree that caught fire.

"Firefighters sprayed foam all along the back of it. There's not even a mark on it," Conley said.

Only a tree was damaged in the fire and Conley credits the quick response by fire crews for keeping the scene from becoming much worse.

snowy tree branch power line
(credit: CBS)

West Metro Fire Marshal Bruce Kral said other homeowners can take steps to prevent such fires from happening in their own backyard.

"During the early parts of the year make sure tree branches are trimmed so that when they do get loaded down with snow they don't break off and take a power line down with them," Kral said.

It's a lesson Conley learned the hard way, but he's thankful no person – or chicken – was hurt.

"I've never seen anything like it and I hope to never see it again," he said.

Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team in 2012 as the morning reporter, covering national stories like the Aurora Theater Shooting and devastating Colorado wildfires. She now reports for CBS4 News at 10 and is always open to story ideas. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @KellyCBS4.

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