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ARLINGTON - Smart meter installations are being blamed for two house fires in Arlington this week.The problem isn't the meters themselves, but instead what's happening to electrical wiring.

The first fire happened Monday on Brook Hill Lane and the second happened Tuesday on Grants Parkway. Arlington fire investigator Morkita Anthony found that when the old meters were pulled out, the main electric feeds to the houses were accidentally pulled as well.

What it's doing is making contact somehow with the electric box or the wiring inside and causing a short, which is causing a fire, Anthony said.

There was nothing wrong with the old meters. They were replaced as part of Oncor's plan to install smart meters. Smart meters are digital meters that monitor electricity usage in near real time. But, while the homeowners had no control over whether the installation would happen, it's not clear yet who will pay for the fires and the damage.

We're working with the homeowners, said Jeamy Molina, an Oncor spokeswoman. The insurance companies to do whatever we can do to try to help them resolve these issues.

It's not the first time installation of the smart meters has caused a problem. Molina said about one million smart meters have been installed in Texas by Oncor so far and thousands have revealed wiring problems with the bases. Oncor paid electricians to correct the problems. Molina said that to her knowledge, this week s fires in Arlington are the only fires to happen as a result of the wiring issues.

Anthony contends the fires are no one's fault, and are simply the result of time. Both houses were a little older, built in the 1960s and '70s.

It's just, again, the age of the houses, settling of the houses, settling of the land around it and those wires being pulled tight slightly by that taking place, Anthony said.

If you're concerned about the wiring to your meter, Oncor suggests calling the company to discuss your concerns.

E-mail: chawes@wfaa.com

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