Officials Investigate PECO Meter Fires

Officials continue to investigate a series of PECO smart meter fires and meter overheating around the area.

By David Chang
|  Monday, Sep 17, 2012  |  Updated 10:03 PM EDT
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With three more reports of overheated PECO Smart Meters, a Bucks County Fire Chief says he's on a safety mission.

NBC10 Philadelphia

With three more reports of overheated PECO Smart Meters, a Bucks County Fire Chief says he's on a safety mission.

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Officials continue to investigate a series of PECO smart meter fires and meter overheating around the area.

“Here in town we’ve had three PECO meters that actually caught on fire and caused damage to structures,” said Battalion Chief Rob Sponheimer of the Bensalem Township Fire Department.

The most recent fire happened on September 6 on Park Avenue in Bensalem Township while another meter fire occurred back in August in Upper Makefield Township. PECO also says they’ve learned of three new cases of smart meters overheating, bringing the total to 29.

The recent cases forced PECO to stop putting in the new meters. They’re now replacing the ones they’ve installed with another brand that has alarm and automatic shutoff features. Vito Matarese tells NBC10 PECO just gave him one of those new meters for his house in Fox Chase.

“I don’t want to have a fire,” said Matarese. “Thank God this is brick. Still, I don’t want to hear the word ‘overheating’ with electricity. It scares me!”

Last week during a meeting in Harrisburg, PECO told state regulators that they have also hired their own outside investigators.

“There are expert firms that are doing forensic analysis on the meters that have overheated so that we can get to the bottom of what’s going on,” said Karen Muldoon Geus, a PECO spokesperson.

Chief Sponheimer tells NBC10 he’s met with PECO and has made it his mission to let other firefighters know about the meter fires.

“This has been one of the hot topics,” said Sponheimer. “We put it out there on our Internet sites. We put it out there on our Facebook pages. We’re just trying to notify the other fire marshals and investigators around and notify the public.”

Several residents told NBC10 they are so paranoid about the meters that they go out several times a day to put their hands on them to check if they’re getting hot. Fire officials and PECO warn however that you should not touch or tamper with the meters under any circumstances. They also tell residents to listen for power fluctuations or interruptions in their house or check for a burning smell, smoke and sparking. If you have any suspicions at all, call your local Fire Department and PECO immediately.

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