Meter tampering causes fire -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Meter tampering causes fire

Inv. Sam Harris (WALB) Inv. Sam Harris (WALB)
The power meter was tampered with (WALB) The power meter was tampered with (WALB)
Director of Utility Operations Jimmy Norman (WALB) Director of Utility Operations Jimmy Norman (WALB)

Albany Utilities and Firefighters are investigating a grass fire in an East Albany yard. Investigators say it was apparently started by electrical meter tampering.

Albany Firefighters were called to this home in the 400 block of Vintage Road at 8:00AM, for a report of a fire caused by wires down.

They put out a small grass fire, and found the cause in the back yard. Albany Fire Investigator Sam Harris said, "To check for wires down and while back there they noticed that the meter had been tampered with."

Investigators say it appeared someone was trying to power the home after the meter had been pulled. "If you pull that meter out and try to stick a foreign object, a round piece of wire or something like that in there, it doesn't fit properly, it could spark and arc and cause problems," Director of Utility Operations Jimmy Norman said.

Investigators think that arcing electricity sparked the grass fire, which was reported quickly before much damage was done.

But utility officials warn that whoever tampered with that meter could have been killed. "If you are standing in direct contact with damp soil, it takes less that sixth-tenths of one amp to kill you, to stop your heart," Norman said.

Typically utility officials see tampered meters associated with vagrants in vacant houses, but this home was not vacant.  Firefighters say it was fortunate the home was not damaged by fire.

Harris said "It's always a fire risk when people start doing things such as meter tampering."

That's why officials urge you to call 311 if you see one of these electrical meters being tampered with.

This fire and meter tampering incident is still under investigation. Utility investigators are trying to find the occupants of the home to talk with them.

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