Summary of Evidence on Smart Meter Fires

 BePreparedSMfire In California and around world, smart meters have been linked to fires, explosions, and damaged appliances.  For every fire started at the meter, in an appliance, or on wiring, smart meter causality should be suspected.

There has been a recent spate of fires in Guerneville, California which some people have blamed on the homeless.  The cause of the fires are still under investigation, but some have been linked to electrical wiring, faulty heaters, and possibly arson.  The link to smart meters has not been investigated.

A Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) whistleblower Pat Wrigley, who worked as a meter reader for 9 1/2 years testified at California Public Utilities Commission judicial hearing.  He stated:  “Smart meters cause fires” and “PG&E is covering up the risk”.

Two California  fire captains contacted us about two different types of problems from smart meter arcing.

Matt Becket’s refrigerator motor intermittently sped up and their lights became brighter.  He said, “As a seventeen year veteran and current Fire Captain this caused me to become very concerned.”  The smart meter on his house was replaced with an analog, and there were no problems, until a new smart meter was reinstalled.  This time he had two surge protectors burn out.

Another fire captain Ross writes, “I was at home doing yard work in the late afternoon when my wife came outside and told me that “half the power was off again”. This had been happening on and off for about two weeks … I then went outside to where my meter was and I could instantly smell the burnt electrical smoke. As I was looking at the meter I inadvertently placed my hand on the meter itself and almost burned my hand.”

Despite the above claims from knowledgeable whistleblowers, and media reports linking smart meters to fires and explosions, this issue has not received the serious attention it deserves.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is charged with overseeing utility safety.  They knew about the risk of smart meter fires in 2009, and their staff investigated in 2013.  The CPUC told the Governor and Legislature they found no problem.  If there’s no problem, why aren’t the details of their investigation public?  Why did they wait four years to investigate?

PG&E states they are now monitoring temperature and voltage readings of smart meters for hazardous conditions, which proves there’s a problem. If there was no problem they would not need to monitor these conditions.

Please see the Summary of Evidence on Smart Meter Fires which is culled from the EMF Safety Network Smart Meter Fires and Explosions page and documents this hazard with links to more information.  We have been tracking smart meter fires since 2010.

Dozens of smart meters explode from power surge

According to CBS, KCRA, and other news media, dozens of smart meters exploded and caught fire after an electrical surge cut power to about 5800 homes near Stockton CA.  A dump truck crashed into several power poles causing extensive damage.  More than 700 customers were still without power.

CBS News reports, “A power surge left thousands without power for most of the day in Stockton after smart meters on their homes exploded on Monday.”  “Neighbors in the South Stockton area described it as a large pop, a bomb going off, and strong enough to shake a house.”

The Stockton Record reported fire Capt. Bryan Carr described the scene as “unreal” when his engine pulled onto Fairbury Lane, a residential street in southeast Stockton.

“In some cases, meters were literally blown off the panels. People described it as hearing a whirring sound like the meter was speeding up, then like an explosion. Some of the meters weren’t blown off, but they were fried and the glass was gone,” Carr said.

According to Carr there was no pattern to the damage.  There would be three houses with damaged meters, then one or two in a row that were intact. He estimated there were up 50-60 homes with significant damages.

SMUD smart meter burn out causes electrical failure & fire hazard

Margie Rothwell was having serious problems with the electricity in her home.  The power turned on and off for no apparent reason. The house fire alarm kept going off and the noises were scaring her dog.

She called her brother, who was a master electrician, to help her.  He found electrical lines not working and the smart meter digital readout was unreadable.  He recommended she call the utility SMUD right away, which she did.  (SMUD stands for Sacramento Municipal Utility District.)

Note: upper right meter base clip is visibly burned
Note: upper right meter base clip is visibly burned

A couple hours later, the SMUD technician came and when he got closer to the smart meter he said he smelled “burn”.

Margie recalled, “He had a very horrified look on his face when he looked at the burnt smart meter and meter socket.” The technician removed the smart meter and quickly put it in his truck, concealing the evidence.

The technician installed a temporary adapter which left her home with only 110 volts and limited power in parts of her house.

She was left with no dryer, no air conditioner, no electricity in the master bedroom, or anything that required 220 volts.

She asked the SMUD technician for a business card. He said he didn’t have one. She asked him for his name and he would not give her his full name.

The SMUD technician told Margie that she was responsible for replacing the damaged meter base, which included hiring a professional electrical contractor and getting a city permit.  Margie asked him if SMUD would fix it. He said no.

She called several electrical professionals to get estimates which ranged from $1,500-$3500.

She then searched the internet for “smart meter problems” and she found out that this is a common problem with smart meters.  In California, fire captain Ross had similar electric problems, as did another fire captain Matt Beckett.  A fire erupted shortly after a PG&E smart meter was installed in Vacaville, California which killed a man.

She contacted the EMF Safety Network director, Sandi Maurer, who connected her to Eric Windheim, EMF Safety consultant, and director of Sacramento Smart Meter Awareness.  Together they helped her write a declaration about the burnt meter and panel, the limited electricity, and her experience with the technician.

Margie sent the declaration and a demand letter to SMUD via certified mail with returned receipt. The following week Eric supported Margie at two SMUD board meetings, where she demanded they pay for the repairs as soon as possible. She reads her declaration in this audio file, at the 6:25 mark. Listen to more of her comments in this video below.
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Margie asked the board, “If SMUD’s smart meter is so smart why didn’t it send SMUD a warning message that there was a very dangerous electrical failure going on at my house? Was SMUD going to wait for the fire department to send you a report in the mail?”

Following the board meetings, Margie:

  •  Kept all communication with SMUD in writing
  •  Refused to risk having another smart meter on her home
  •  Demanded the analog meter as the only replacement
  •  Never agreed or consented to the opt-out extortion fee

The smart meter could have burned down her house, with Margie in it.  Since it caused similar hazards for other customers, she was not going to take that chance ever again.

Analog restoredNine days after she went to the first board meeting SMUD repaired the burnt panel and restored an analog meter.  SMUD paid for all the repairs, and they returned analog meter without Margie’s agreement to pay their opt-out fees of $127 plus $14 a month.

SMUD denied the smart meter was to blame for the electrical problems. The SMUD representative wrote to Margie, “What I can assure you of, is that the damage to your panel was not caused by the Smart Meter.  The origin of the damage was in the meter socket assembly.”

Eric Windheim says, “A Maxim of Law is: “Where damages are given, the losing party should pay the costs of the victor” which is exactly what happened here. Since SMUD is paying for all of this they have admitted causation.  If Margie’s wiring was really at fault SMUD would have charged her for all repair costs.”

Click here for more information on smart meter fires and explosions.  If you are a SMUD customer and have questions about smart meters contact Eric Windheim at 916-395-7336 or contact him here.