October 7, 2020                                                                                     

WAUKESHA – The local house fire to which the Waukesha Fire Department responded on July 6th, 2020, was most likely caused or exacerbated by one of WE Energies’ AMI (advanced metering infrastructure) or “smart” meters, which are known to be faulty and have been implicated in previous house fires nationwide.

“I was able to observe the burn patterns on the right side of the house. The initial observations indicated that the heaviest burning and charring occurred on the back right corner of the structure. This is also where the electrical service was located for the house.” – Brian Charlesworth, Fire Marshal, Waukesha Fire Dept.

“After reviewing the burn patterns found on scene, it was agreed by all investigators that the fire originated in or around the electrical service at approximately the ground level; the cause of the fire at this time is undetermined, but there was also an unknown electrical device as well as the buildings (sic) electrical service located in the origin of the fire.” – Conclusion of Fire Dept. Investigation Report

It was also found that shorting and arcing had occurred during the fire, and that the lights flickered before the fire, something which has been reported many times before in “smart” meter induced fires. Hundreds of thousands of smart meters have been recalled due to malfunction and fire in the United States and abroad, often causing property destruction and fatalities. This local incident, which could have turned out much worse, is part of a much larger trend of utility “smart” meters malfunctioning and catching fire, yet another example of utilities taking risks with public safety.

Removing meters from fire scenes is standard utility response in order to avoid bad publicity and smart meter pushback. Fire Marshal Brian Charlesworth confirmed that both the gas and electric meters had been removed by WE Energies, and that removing the electric meter from the scene of a fire was “very standard” for WE Energies. This is consistent with methods used by other utilities around the United States to deter investigation and cover up and suppress evidence. WE Energies was allowed to remove crucial evidence from the scene with impunity; Charlesworth said the Waukesha Fire Department did not order an independent investigation, as that is typically done by insurance companies in response to claims. Charlesworth disclosed that the homeowner had made a claim but that the department did not have further specifics about it. He also stated that he had not observed any fires similar to this one in the past, and that neither he nor the fire department was generally knowledgeable about smart meters. Officially, no consideration was given to the role of the “smart” electric meter, but given significant circumstantial evidence and the strong precedent of smart meter culpability in house fires, a smart meter malfunction ought to have been considered as the possible cause of the fire.

Per the evidence analyzed, as well as precedent and testimony concerning related evidence and circumstances, it is highly probable the Landis & Gyr “smart” electric meter either caused or significantly contributed to the significant extent of damages caused, and an insurance claim could hold WE Energies liable for damages. We also reiterate calls for nationwide bans of these faulty and dangerous meters; moratoriums prohibit them in many Californian municipalities. Wisconsin does not enjoy many of the consumer protections, like moratoriums or “opt-outs”, that states like California do, and disrupting the complacency that utilities seek is essential if Wisconsinites desire safer and healthier homes.

In contrast to statements in the fire and police investigation reports, WE Energies simply said, “Our company does not have any record of our equipment involved in the fire.” WE Energies declined to comment further. The full results of Wireless Action’s investigation and analysis can be found at: