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DirecTV worker starts fire during cable installation


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#1 jnelsoninjax

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 02:24

UNION TOWNSHIP, Ohio — A Clermont County family's holiday weekend came to an abrupt end when their house burst into flames while a cable technician was installing DirecTV Monday afternoon.

The incident happened just before 2:30 p.m. in the 3800 block of Michael Drive in Union Township.

Kendra and Michael Hicks originally intended to take their children to Coney Island for Labor Day, but their plans changed when they saw smoke fill their home.

"The next thing we knew there was smoke on the roof and flames, it was crazy," said Kendra.

The couple wanted to switch from Time Warner to DirecTV so they scheduled for a technician to make the change.

"I heard a pop noise and then we heard another pop noise, then we saw smoke and my husband was like, 'Get the kids, get the kids,' and then the DirecTV guy went around the corner, and said, 'Do you have a fire extinguisher?' and that's the last we heard from him," said Kendra.

The Union Township Fire Department said the fire started when the cable technician was drilling through a wall in the garage and then struck a main power line.

"If I would have known that it was smoke and not dry wall dust, I would have said 'Stop,' but it happened so fast," said Michael.

While their home suffered from minor damage, the couple is in disbelief they haven't received an apology from the company or the employee.

"He has called once since it happened, and he was trying to give me information, he never really said sorry, we haven't heard from the DirecTV company itself," said Kendra.

The Hicks' insurance company is handling everything for now, the pair said.

"I'm upset that the house is damaged, but I'm more upset he didn't say anything to us," said Michael.

The DirecTV technician pulled up to the Hicks' house when 9 On Your Side was at the Hicks' home Monday night. The employee said the fire was an accident, and that his insurance would take care of the damage.

The Hicks are staying at a hotel until their home is repaired.

An estimate for the damage is not known at this time.

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#2 -Razorfold

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 05:11

While their home suffered from minor damage, the couple is in disbelief they haven't received an apology from the company or the employee.

Because saying sorry could be considered an admission of guilt. They probably aren't going to say anything until their insurance company finishes their investigation.

Sure it probably was directvs fault but it could also have been a bad electrician who wired the house incorrectly.

#3 Growled

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 16:20

Their first mistake was switching to Directv. Awful service, from installation to usage to trying to get rid of them.



#4 Hum

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 16:27

I'm glad that didn't happen when I got my DTV dish. :laugh:



#5 +AJerman

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 16:30

Their first mistake was switching to Directv. Awful service, from installation to usage to trying to get rid of them.

Nah, they were leaving TWC. Everything is an upgrade over TWC.

 

Which brings me to my next thought. I think TWC sabotaged the install! :o



#6 Growled

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 16:47

Nah, they were leaving TWC. Everything is an upgrade over TWC.

 

You may have a point there. :D



#7 Shadrack

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 17:09

I don't blame the guy or DirecTV for not apologizing.  I'm really scratching my head on how the fire could have happened... all the DirecTV stuff is pretty low-power.

 

If I understood the article correctly, it sounds like the fire broke out during the installation.  Maybe a drill caught on fire and it propagated from there?  Or perhaps some power tool was plugged into an electrical outlet that was not rated for the current draw or had bad wiring and a fire broke loose as a result of that? 

 

At this state it is pretty sensational and presumptuous to state the the directv worker started the fire.



#8 +LogicalApex

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 17:14

I don't blame the guy or DirecTV for not apologizing.  I'm really scratching my head on how the fire could have happened... all the DirecTV stuff is pretty low-power.

 

If I understood the article correctly, it sounds like the fire broke out during the installation.  Maybe a drill caught on fire and it propagated from there?  Or perhaps some power tool was plugged into an electrical outlet that was not rated for the current draw or had bad wiring and a fire broke loose as a result of that? 

 

At this state it is pretty sensational and presumptuous to state the the directv worker started the fire.

It sounds like the fire happened due to the drill coming in contact with the main power line. I'm not an electrician and I haven't seen  the house, but I would imagine the only main power line that could be a problem would be the "drop" (the location where the power line enters the home). If this was the case I'm not sure how he could have missed it. The main feeds are usually very thick and they don't (at least here in Philadelphia) like to put that drop too far from the main breaker box. If the feed was past the main breaker box I wonder why the breakers didn't trip before the wires overheated.

 

Lots of questions floating on this one before the DirectTV guy can easily be blamed.



#9 Shadrack

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 17:29

It sounds like the fire happened due to the drill coming in contact with the main power line. I'm not an electrician and I haven't seen  the house, but I would imagine the only main power line that could be a problem would be the "drop" (the location where the power line enters the home). If this was the case I'm not sure how he could have missed it. The main feeds are usually very thick and they don't (at least here in Philadelphia) like to put that drop too far from the main breaker box. If the feed was past the main breaker box I wonder why the breakers didn't trip before the wires overheated.

 

Lots of questions floating on this one before the DirectTV guy can easily be blamed.

 

Good point, but yeah I agree that if the drill came in contact with breaker protected wires the result would most likely be a blown breaker before a fire.  But, just to be clear, a breaker isn't really designed to prevent fire.  Breakers are designed to prevent excessive current flow.  Given the right configuration a fire could start <15 amperes.  Shoot, less than 1 amp can cause a fire if the configuration is just right.

 

The wiring could have already been bad to begin with.  It could have been that the wiring was charred due to water damage or something like that and the DirecTV worker just nudged it and an arcing event then transpired.  Lots of "if's" and "could of" but the investigators will have to come to their own opinions.

 

In my neighborhood we share the step-down transformer with at least 1 other neighbor.  The lines are buried and come up to a meter and then the breaker box.  The only wire not breaker protected is buried.

 

There are some new breakers that are coming out that have "arc detection" but that is still a legal nightmare until UL or some standards body makes a standard test and certification program.  Selling anything that claims to be 'safer' to use over something else really opens you up to a whole lot of law suits if your product ever fails at what you claim it is designed to do.  That's why manufacturers need UL.  If the device passes UL standard testing but still causes a fire there is a nice buffer of argument that goes something along the lines of "the standard testing isn't good enough".



#10 wv@gt

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 17:44

Its hard to say what could have started the fire. Who knows how dated the wires are, if they are grounded, on a breaker or fuse, cloth covered etc



#11 +Xenosion

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 18:18

Because saying sorry could be considered an admission of guilt. They probably aren't going to say anything until their insurance company finishes their investigation.

Sure it probably was directvs fault but it could also have been a bad electrician who wired the house incorrectly.

It's really sad that this is in fact how the world works now. I'm a firm believer that if something terrible happens, it doesn't matter if I'm at fault, I would be sorry you're going through something terrible. Now, everything is so politically correct or fault-driven, people can't and don't feel the necessity for decency.



#12 +LogicalApex

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 18:25

Good point, but yeah I agree that if the drill came in contact with breaker protected wires the result would most likely be a blown breaker before a fire.  But, just to be clear, a breaker isn't really designed to prevent fire.  Breakers are designed to prevent excessive current flow.  Given the right configuration a fire could start <15 amperes.  Shoot, less than 1 amp can cause a fire if the configuration is just right.

 

<snipped>

The breaker box is designed to prevent excessive current flow, as you mentioned, which is directly connected to a fire. If the wires overheat they will catch fire which is what the breaker box is designed to prevent.

 

Of course, there could still be a fire as wires overheating due to excessive load isn't the only cause, as you mentioned.

 

The new home I'm in the process of purchasing has AFCI (Arc-Fault Current Interrupter) breakers in the box as they are required under the current NEC (National Electric Code). I found this UL specification on them... I imagine they wouldn't be apart of the building code unless they had properly been certified and accepted by the larger electrical community?



#13 Shadrack

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 18:31

The breaker box is designed to prevent excessive current flow, as you mentioned, which is directly connected to a fire. If the wires overheat they will catch fire which is what the breaker box is designed to prevent.

 

Of course, there could still be a fire as wires overheating due to excessive load isn't the only cause, as you mentioned.

 

The new home I'm in the process of purchasing has AFCI (Arc-Fault Current Interrupter) breakers in the box as they are required under the current NEC (National Electric Code). I found this UL specification on them... I imagine they wouldn't be apart of the building code unless they had properly been certified and accepted by the larger electrical community?

 

It looks like I'm behind the times then.  Last I was looking into the arc protected breakers they were just coming out and the standards were still being developed.

 

I wonder what the cost would be for me to upgrade my breaker panel to them and if I'd get any breaks on my home insurance premiums... hmm.. Anyway, thanks for letting me know.



#14 bikeman25

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 18:38

Our Main Wire in our condo is from outside breaker panel (main breaker out there) long wire to meter box in next room over from where it enters.....thankfully a fire didn't happen when Directv installed our system in may 2011.    



#15 Shadrack

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 18:41

Hmm..it looks like the specific language requiring AFCIs in bedroom and dwellings is in my 2005 NEC print edition.  Wonder why my house, built in 2007, doesn't have them then....





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