Lakeland fire sparks concerns about 'smart meters' - WFLA News Channel 8

Lakeland fire sparks concerns about 'smart meters'

Posted: Updated:
LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) -

A charred electrical box is what's left of a very scary weekend outside Cherie Oberg's Carillon Lakes condo in Lakeland.

Oberg says the digital "smart meter" on her home burst into flames damaging two adjoining meters. The flames fizzled out by the time Lakeland firefighters arrived, but the fear sparked by the situation is still smoldering for Oberg and her neighbors. 

"Oh my gosh, somebody could have died. We could have all lost our homes," Oberg said. 

"It was totally scary," explained neighbor Sandy Williams. "We came out. There was still a little bit of smoke smell. We could smell the air way down at the other end of the building."

Oberg and her neighbors are convinced the "smart meter" itself is to blame for the fire, but Lakeland Electric and city officials dispute that.

City spokesman Kevin Cook says a preliminary investigation revealed the problem was not the "smart meter."
 
"What we found is the can, the apparatus that the meter actually fits onto, that looked like there was an electrical short inside that can," Cook said. 

"We found out it's not the actual meter itself. It's the housing of what the meter plugs into which unfortunately is the homeowners responsibility," he said.

The explanation is very similar to the one given by Florida Power & Light in 2011 when a similar situation unfolded at a South Florida woman's home.

According to our partners at WPTV in West Palm Beach a fire erupted in July 2011 at a home that just had a "smart meter" installed. An FP&L spokeswoman at the time said, that this was not related to either a traditional meter or a smart meter, this was a wiring issue in a customer's home.

Cherie Oberg said she was basically told the same thing by Lakeland Electric about the fire at her home.

"I was told the box, the electric box isn't sufficient for the new meters, and yet Lakeland Electric put in the new meters regardless," she said.

There are consumer complaints all over the country that blame electrical box and house fires on newly installed smart meters, and consistently utility companies deny the meters are the problem.

A spokesman at the Consumer Product Safety Commission in Washington D.C. says the agency is aware of the growing number of complaints. 

"We're trying to find out what's going on," said CSPC Deputy Director Alex Filip. He says the agency is trying to find a pattern or defect if one exists.

If you have a concern or complaint about a smart meter you can contact the CSPC at 1-800-638-2772 or e-mail the agency at https://www.saferproducts.gov/CPSRMSPublic/Incidents/ReportIncident.aspx.

 

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Pinellas homeowner ends up the loser after local government mistake on property taxes

    Pinellas homeowner ends up the loser after local government mistake on property taxes

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 5:59 PM EDT2014-07-22 21:59:58 GMT
    This Preservation land is at heart of homeowner tax dispute in PinellasThis Preservation land is at heart of homeowner tax dispute in Pinellas
    Melanie and Jeffrey Cornwell should have been getting a tax break for years on part of the homestead property in Dunedin they call their "little piece of Heaven." But due to a mistake at the Pinellas Property Appraiser's Office, they won't see any rebates for previous taxes, just a break on future tax bills.
    Melanie and Jeffrey Cornwell should have been getting a tax break for years on part of the homestead property in Dunedin they call their "little piece of Heaven." But due to a mistake at the Pinellas Property Appraiser's Office, they won't see any rebates for previous taxes, just a break on future tax bills.
  • RECALL: Fruit at Trader Joe's & Costco

    RECALL: Fruit at Trader Joe's & Costco

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 5:45 PM EDT2014-07-22 21:45:14 GMT
    A Central California company has issued a voluntary nationwide recall of specific lots of its fresh peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots over concerns of possible listeria contamination.
    A Central California company has issued a voluntary nationwide recall of specific lots of its fresh peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots over concerns of possible listeria contamination.
  • How thieves clone your credit cards

    How thieves clone your credit cards

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 9:15 AM EDT2014-07-22 13:15:02 GMT
    File photoFile photo
    Patricia Stack didn't know her debit card number had been stolen until she tried to withdraw money from her bank account. "A couple weeks ago I tried to get money out to pay my power bill and there was nothing in it."
    Patricia Stack didn't know her debit card number had been stolen until she tried to withdraw money from her bank account. "A couple weeks ago I tried to get money out to pay my power bill and there was nothing in it."
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Couple arrested for having sex on Cortez Beach in front of beachgoers

    Couple arrested for having sex on Cortez Beach in front of beachgoers

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 1:08 PM EDT2014-07-22 17:08:35 GMT
    Bradenton Beach police officers were dispatched to Cortez Beach after a few people called 911 and complained about a couple having sex publicly, right next to a little girl on the beach.
    Bradenton Beach police officers were dispatched to Cortez Beach after a few people called 911 and complained about a couple having sex publicly, right next to a little girl on the beach.
  • 'Faces of Meth' program launched by Sheriff's office

    'Faces of Meth' program launched by Sheriff's office

    Monday, July 21 2014 6:37 PM EDT2014-07-21 22:37:35 GMT
    'Faces of Meth' is a project of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.
    'Faces of Meth' is a project of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.
  • New surveillance shows Tampa boy's death as hit and run

    New surveillance shows Tampa boy's death as hit and run

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 4:51 PM EDT2014-07-22 20:51:45 GMT
    A still image from a business surveillance camera shows what appears to be a small boy running on the sidewalk.A still image from a business surveillance camera shows what appears to be a small boy running on the sidewalk.
    New surveillance video has Tampa Police investigating 4-year-old Marterrance Albury's death as a hit and run. 
    New surveillance video has Tampa Police investigating 4-year-old Marterrance Albury's death as a hit and run. 
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.