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Home owner blames smart meter installation for destructive fire

An East Vancouver family says it’s worried about the safety of its new smart meter after a fire broke out shortly after it was installed.

The family says the electrical fire shorted out no fewer than 20 different appliances, and a number of electrical outlets.

“I got a panic call from my mom saying that there was a fire in the house. So I ran over and there was lots of black smoke. Luckily I could put out the fire out fast with an extinguisher.”

The daughter, who did not want to be identified, says the fire follows the smart meter installation by BC Hydro, and the damage is far worse than just the microwave.

“Really anything you can name inside the house. All the air conditioning is gone, the phone inside the house is gone, the TV boxes, all the electronic devices are gone.”

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But Friday’s fire here isn’t the fire the family blames on the installation of a smart meter. The first time Hydro hooked one up in February, there was trouble too.

“When the first fire happened, they put back the old meter, and the power has been good since then,” says the fire victim.

Hydro’s billion dollar smart meter program wrote back about the first fire, saying it’s not responsible for any loss, injury, damage or expense. And it seems the company is taking the same position with the latest electrical conflagration.

“The point that I’d like to leave you and your customers is that this is a very, very small number,” BC Hydro smart meter Chief Gary Murphy told Global News. “The customers should not be concerned that this is going to happen. But if they do notice problems with flickering lights, please call us. We will come out and endeavor to see if there is something with regards to our service.”

For now, BC Hydro says a loose wire on the customer’s side of the meter board may be responsible for the fire that burned out the garage door opener, the hot water heater and much more, and the company is not paying for it.

Meanwhile, it’s the third report of such a fire in recent weeks, and while that number is small given that more than a million smart meters have been installed around the province, it’s still a troubling development that’s got the attention of provincial politicians.

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“You want to know with absolutely certainty that it was not your power company that burnt your house down,” says NDP hydro critic John Horgan.