ANTA ROSA– It was confirmed today that an electrical fire which led to the evacuation of downtown Santa Rosa Plaza last Thursday evening was caused by a bank of newly installed PG&E ‘smart’ meters. Reported by the Santa Rosa Press Democrat last Thursday, the mainstream media has so far neglected to include that the source of ignition was indeed at least 3 ‘smart’ meters within the utility room. Reached for comment, Santa Rosa Fire Dept. battalion chief Jack Piccinini told SSM! that ‘all the electric meters within the room where smart meters. An electrical arc occurred that started the fire.” The Press Democrat reported:
“When firefighters arrived, they found smoke and flames coming from a room of electrical panels on the mall’s east side, near the Third Street underpass.
Three of the panels that supply power to the Disney Store, Eddie Bauer and a vacant room “literally blew up,” said Jack Piccinini, battalion chief with the Santa Rosa Fire Department.
‘Whatever shorted them out was quite significant,” he said. “I’m not an electrician so I won’t guess what it was.’”
The official report from the Santa Rosa Fire Dept. states:
“On investigation, ME01 found 3 PG&E meters that had blown off the electrical panel causing damage to the interior wiring of the electrical panel. A fire was still smoldering but left in place until the arrival of PG&E.”
The Santa Rosa Fire Department’s incident report cites ‘arcing’ caused by ‘failure of equipment.’ Whether the cause of the arcing was related to faulty installation or inherent flaws within the ‘smart’ meters themselves is not known at this time. In a Stop Smart Meters! exclusive interview in January with the ‘Wellington Whistleblower’, a former employee of the firm contracted to install PG&E’s ‘smart’ meters alleges unsafe installations:
Though the procedure is relatively simple, if you get it wrong this can lead to arcing, shorts- even house fires. The blades on the back of the meter have to be aligned properly with the jaws on the socket the meter gets placed in. I kept hearing one of the managers say, “you guys weren’t trained properly.”
In light of the series of cost cutting (and profit boosting) measures that led to the San Bruno blast last September, questions are sure to be forthcoming regarding the Public Utilities Commission’s actions regarding this incident and the many other fire safety issues that have been reported in connection with ‘smart’ meters both here and abroad as compiled by the EMF Safety Network. There is also growing concern from firefighters as well as electrical engineers that the ‘smart’ meters indeed pose a fire hazard.
At press time, neither PG&E nor the CPUC had returned calls seeking comment on this incident.