Winter decided to make a surprising return Tuesday morning. The blast of heavy snow and strong winds caused thousands of homes across the city to be left without power.

Close to 17,000 homes were in the dark after the city saw heavy, wet snow and forceful winds.

"We had city wide outages, we had lines down, we had snow on the wires," Epcor's Michelle St-Amand said. "We managed to get everybody up fairly quickly. We brought out all our resources."

A fire was even sparked early Tuesday at a south-side home after a downed power line landed on a garage.

"It was a loud boom. Like both the neighbours and everybody, were freaking out because it was just this very white kind of flash," said neighbour Eldon Sala.

No one was injured in the incident. Officials say damage was contained to the garage.

"We found heavy fire coming from the garage -- one of the problems we were faced with is we had power lines down," said Capt. Pete Shaw with Edmonton Fire Rescue Services.

Fortis Alberta reported between 10,000 and 15,000 rural customers from Spruce Grove to Cardston were left in the dark after heavy snow and strong winds knocked trees onto power lines.

Power problems were also reported at several schools on the city's south-side, including Louis St. Laurent and St. Teresa. Power was eventually restored, but the earlier outage caused students at Harry Ainlay High School to be sent home.

Only about 100 students remained at the high school to write an English exam.

Edmonton police said by early morning, there had already been five injury collisions and 28 fender benders in the city. Motorists planning to travel between Edmonton and Calgary are being advised to stay off highways until conditions improve.

With files from Scott Roberts