Downed Power Lines May Have Sparked Home Fire

Owner blames Pepco

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A family in the District has been displaced from their home after they say some downed power lines sparked a fire. Now the homeowner says Pepco could have prevented the blaze from starting in the first place.

    “My house burned down today because of Pepco," Northwest D.C. resident Lou Constantino said.

    Costantino says he was playing with his children in the living room of his home near the intersection of MacArthur Boulevard and Manning Place in Northwest around 10:00 a.m. Monday when he heard a popping or snapping sound. Then the power went out.

    Costantino says he went to the garage to shutoff all the power and heard a grinding noise coming from the breaker box. When he went to shut off the main switch for the house, he says he got a little shock. The family called Pepco to report the outage and was told that someone would be out by 2:00 p.m.

    But after placing the call, Costantino says power came back in part of the house, although he had already switched off the breaker box. He went back out to the garage and opened the door to find wires dangling down outside his home. Costantino alerted his family and called Pepco again to bring attention to the downed wires. Again Pepco said they would be to the house by 2:00 p.m.

    But after returning outside to check on the wires Costantino noticed that they had caught on fire. He says the hot wires then sparked a series of small brush fires in nearby bushes that then spread to his home. Costantino got everyone out of the house and called the fire department.

    After putting out the flames the fire department and family waited for Pepco to arrive. At 2:00 p.m. crews came and shut off power to the wires. But Costantino says smoke again began billowing from his home. However, firefighters found no evidence of another fire/

    Fortunately no one was injured, but Costantino says had Pepco been more responsive this wouldn’t have happened.

    "The wires were burning, 11, 12, 1, 2 [o’clock] ya know. And Pepco, it took them that long to get here,” Costantino said.

    Pepco spokesperson Bob Hainey responded with the following statement:

    "We want to first express concern for our customer. As always we're going to do the right thing if we are found responsible. This is clearly an unfortunate situation and we understand the customer's concerns. However, investigations of this nature do take time. We all want to get to the right answer. Again, if Pepco is found to be responsible, we will be accountable and do the right thing."