Raw video: Arcing Powerlines Cause Tree Fire & Explosion

BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Arcing wires are being blamed for a spectacular explosion that took place in this Northern Washington city over the weekend.

Trouble began when a 60-foot poplar tree swaying into high voltage power lines Saturday afternoon. The tree branches danced closer and closer to the lines, eventually catching on fire.

Kaleb Skurdal was driving by when he saw the flames. He stopped his car, and started filming with his cell phone.

Raw video of the tree fire

"Like for five minutes I'm just like standing here," he said.

Skurdal and several others called the fire department.

But after 10 minutes, fire trucks had yet to arrive at the scene. Meantime, the electricity began pulsating, and the flames were intensifying, Skurdal said.

"Like every time it would hit, it would be like, 'Dzzzzz,' and basically sounded like a light sabre -- the light sabre sound in Star Wars.'"

Then it happened. A huge arc sent a bolt of fire like lightning down the tree, and everyone around felt the jolt.

"It basically felt like a bomb going off," said Skurdal. "I was like, 'This is what its like to live in Israel.'"

Fortunately nobody was hurt and everyone in the house below the tree were able to get out safely.

The arc caused a power surge, damaging many computers and circuit breakers in the neighborhood. Some 4,500 people were left without power.

"The computer fried, a fax machine fried, things like that," said Chris McCoy, computer technician for 3D Corp.

The Bellingham Fire Department says it got a call of arcing wires and passed that information on to Puget Sound Energy.

Asst. Fire Chief Roger Christensen said the department doesn't typically respond to call of arcing wires unless flames are also reported. In this case, the spokesman said, nobody did.