(N.Morgan) James Humphrey Jr. was found dead on his bedroom floor Monday night after being unable to escape from a fire that raged through his home. The family believes this fire could have been avoidable, if it had not been for the Smart Meter that had been installed into Mr; Humphrey's house. "I just lost a 75-year-old cousin," Alfreda Johnson said. She believes this was a death — and a fire — that could have been prevented.
"They came out and changed that meter three weeks ago, and the house caught on fire from that meter," she alleged.
Fire investigators say the blaze that killed Humphrey did start near the home's electric meter, which is an advanced, digital "smart meter." Investigators haven't determined that was the cause, but are considering it as a possibility.
"Oncor comes out here and they post those meters out there on these old houses. These houses are not equipped to carry those smart meters," Johnson said.
Smart meters have been the focus controversy in recent years, due to the health problems people have attributed to the Smart Meters.
Two national electric providers confirm to News 8 they've seen smart meters overheat occasionally when connected to older wiring systems in some homes.
As for Monday's fatal fire in Dallas, Oncor — which delivers electricity to North Texas and has installed more than three million smart meters — said in a statement:
"Our thoughts are with the family in this difficult time ... There has been no prior instance where such a meter has caused a fire in a dwelling."
However, the advanced boxes have been suspected of sparking fires and overheating in a number of cases elsewhere. The meters have occasionally been replaced en masse: 186,000 of them in Philadelphia; more than 10,000 in Lakeland, Florida; another 70,000 in Oregon; and 105,000 in Saskatchewan, Canada.