Alberni smart meter swap-out sparks fire

Poking a tool in a power meter base may have sparked an electrical fire during a smart meter swap-out at a Port Alberni residence.

Firemen emerge from the basement of a Ninth Avenue house on Tuesday afternoon after extinguishing an electrical fire. The flare up was sparked during work on a smart meter swap-out

Human error, not electrical malfunction sparked an electrical fire during a smart meter swap-out at a Port Alberni residence, Port Alberni Fire Chief Tim Pley said.

Fire crews responded to a call about an ‘electrical problem’ at a house in the 3200 block of Ninth Avenue just after 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

Upon arrival, firemen saw smoke coming out of the basement door adjacent to the electrical meter base. “They heard sounds of fire crackling inside the door,” Pley said.

Firemen forced their way in the basement of the house where they found a small fire burning near the electrical panel, which because it’s electric they doused with chemical extinguishers instead of water, Pley said.

Flames were making their way up the inside of the wall so firemen forced their way into the main floor of the house and stopped the fire before it went any further, Pley said.

Firemen found signs of melted electrical wire and charred wood around the electrical meter area, but human error caused the flare-up, he said.

“One of the meter technicians caused a short in the meter base when he used a tool inside it,” Pley said. “The smart meter never even got installed yet — there’s no evidence I’ve seen that they cause fires.”

Pley said he’s heard of other fires involving smart meter swap-outs. “In those cases the meter bases were old and brittle but that’s not the cause here,” Pley said.

Hydro has been cut from the home, which has now been turned back over to the owner.

“He’s going to have to get an electrician to repair the wiring and get it inspected before power can be restored,” Pley said. “He’s insured but it’s going to be a pretty big job.”

Corix Utilities has been contracted by BC Hydro to install 1.8 million smart meters throughout B.C. — 17,800 meters in Port Alberni. Corix employees and a vehicle were present at the incident on Ninth Avenue.

Corix officials couldn’t be reached for comment.

BC Hydro spokesperson Ted Olynyk confirmed that there was a problem during an installation of a smart meter in Port Alberni. “The work was done by a qualified electrician with over 15 years of experience,” Olynyk said.

Further comment about the matter will be made after Olynyk speaks with Corix officials, he said.

Hydro and Corix have put the homeowner up in a hotel. “We want to make right by the customer just as quick as we can,” Olynyk said.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Coast Trail to remain closed for now

Federal government won’t open world-famous trek until its First Nations are ready for visitors

New gazebo for Victoria Quay opens with help from Alberni Rotary club

A new gazebo that has been erected at Victoria Quay is the… Continue reading

New Vancouver Island airline eyes Alberni’s airport for charter flights

ACRD has work to do to support air operations, says GM of environmental services

True crime podcaster on mid Island inspired by case of missing Island woman

‘Island Crime’ Season 1 covers 2002 disappearance of 21-year-old Lisa Marie Young

Alberni Valley Community Foundation releases second round of emergency funding

The Alberni Valley Community Foundation will provide $75,000 to support local charities… Continue reading

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

An ongoing updated list of Alberni Valley events affected by COVID-19

Has your event been cancelled or postponed? Check here

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

As SD84 schools look to reopen, Kyuquot and Zeballos opt out

Schools in Tahsis and Gold River will open on June 1, with 30 per cent students expected to come in

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Illicit-drug deaths up in B.C. and remain highest in Canada: chief coroner

More than 4,700 people have died of overdoses since B.C. declared a public health emergency in early 2016

CMHC sees declines in home prices, sales, starts that will linger to end of 2022

CMHC said average housing prices could fall anywhere from nine to 18 per cent in its forecast

B.C. Paralympian named to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

Three-time world and Paralympic gold medalist Sonja Gaudet is part of 11-member class

Most Read