Tampered meter box leads to house fire - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Ben Watson

Tampered meter box leads to house fire

It seems like every time temperatures drop people do unusual things to keep warm in their homes. But the key is to do it safely. Early Thursday morning, a Memphis family learned that lesson the hard way.

Neighbors said the flames that raced through one South Memphis home sent two people to the hospital.

"Looked like he had smoke inhalation," neighbor Susan Stanford said.

After the smoke cleared firefighters discovered a problem that seems to crop up every time temperatures drop.

"Someone had tampered with the meter box and was able to by pass the safety system that MLGW has in place," said Keith Staples of the Memphis Fire Department.

A close examination revealed someone took parts out of the meter box and moved wires around.
"It's very dangerous. The technicians for MLGW are trained to deal with the electrical power and most civilians are not so its very- it's a very extreme hazard for them. People can get electrocuted. In this case it lead to a fire," Staples said.

Fire investigators traced the fire to a malfunction in an electrical unit in a back bedroom. A malfunction they say would not have happened if this meter was left alone.

The two people injured in the fire were in stable condition Thursday.

A firefighter was also injured fighting the fire. Officials said he twisted his ankle and was treated and released at the scene.

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