The North Royalton Fire Department urges residents to check their electrical service meters to help protect them from a fire hazard.
“About ten years ago, our department responded to multiple fires involving residential electrical meters,” said North Royalton Fire Chief Bob Chegan. “These issues are from homes with underground electrical service. Some of these fires caused extensive damage to the homes.” He noted that, “we recently responded to another one of these incidents in which the meter was just arcing and thankfully did not catch fire.”
As Chegan noted, this is not a new cause in North Royalton. Some years ago, a house on Cedarwood Drive went up in flames. The entire back of the house had burned away, which totaled the house. A second house fire took place on Corkwood Drive. Luckily, the fire was detected early and the damage was not to that great of an extent and no one was hurt from either fire. A YouTube video of one of the fires can be seen at “As you can see in the video, the fire originated in the electrical meter and caused significant damage to the home. Since it was highly energized, we could not extinguish it, especially with water. We had to wait for the electrical company to arrive to disconnect the power from the box in front. This home was fortunate as the electric company was near and had a good response time,” said Chegan.
After Fire Department investigations, it was determined that the fires were started at the electric wiring involving the electric meter that was attached outside of the house. In those two fires, it was thought that the drought-like weather that had been experienced prior to those fires had dried the ground, causing it to settle more than usual. This settling may have caused the conduit piping that comes out from the bottom of the meter to pull away from the meter. The strain on the service wire going into the leader box can create a short. The shorted wire then touched the side of the metal box, or another wire, which creates a spark, similar to that of an arc welder. The spark is very powerful and hot, causing the wood to catch fire. “This settling may take years to produce the hazard,” said Chegan. “ If a fire does occur, like in the video, it travels up the side of the house and also into the walls extending into the residence.”
Chegan recommends that residents visually inspect their meters to make sure that they are not pulling away. It should be solidly against the side of the house. “The meter box should still be set flush with youR house. You should notice no pulling, twisting or bending of the conduit as well,” said Chegan. If it doesn’t look right, call an electrical contractor.
As the homeowner, you are responsible for any repairs to the underground electric wiring from the street transformer to the circuit panel in your home. The Illuminating Company is only responsible for the performance of the electric meter.


Contributing Writer