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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 12/28/2010

District resident blames fire on Pepco

By Elizabeth Flock

A house in the District caught fire Monday, and the homeowners believe Pepco is at fault, NBC reported Tuesday.

Homeowner Lou Constantino says downed power lines sparked the fire, and that Pepco could have prevented the blaze by responding to his call more quickly.

Costantino says he was playing with his children in his home in Northwest around 10 a.m. Monday when the power went out. The family called Pepco to report the outage and was told that someone would be out by 2 p.m.

After finding downed wires, Costantino says he called Pepco again. Pepco again told them they would be at the house by 2 p.m.

Costantino says he checked on the wires again, and saw they had caught on fire. He called the fire department and firefighters extinguished the fire.

At 2 p.m., Pepco crews came and shut off power to the wires.

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

Pepco released a statement to News4: “D.C. Fire/EMS is currently investigating the cause of the fire. Pepco is also investigating the incident. We will be able to provide more details once the investigation is complete.”

Pepco delivers power to 778,000 customers in the District and neighboring parts of Maryland. Pepco's reliability with residents has declined over the last five years; the average Pepco customer experienced 70 percent more outages than customers of other big city utilities that took part in one 2009 survey.

By Elizabeth Flock  | December 28, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Crime and Public Safety, DC  
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Pepco CUSTOMER SERVICE sucks....we need another provider in DC so we do not have to put up with this type of nonsense...I once hit auto pay by mistake and called after seeing the funds was taken out and on a week that I had to pay something else "money was tight". I really did not have the money that week and was going to wait until the following week.I called and the "Black Fool" keep getting smart with me...I am Black and I hate dealing with other Blacks when it comes to Customer Service...they treat you like they are paying your bill and assume because you are Black and late that they can treat you like anything...and now we have Capitol One Bank second in line when is comes to poor service....Give us more options....

Posted by: shadon1 | December 28, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Hopefully the insurance company will take care of everything. This time of year causes an incredible increase in electric use and these sad events are not always Pepco's fault. How many additional strands of Christmas lights were plugged into a single outlet? Were all those lights new LCD lights? I keep an electrical fire extinguisher in my home and I would use it and not wait for the fire dept. or Pepco if I saw flames.

Posted by: pejochum | December 28, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

The house caught fire? What was damaged? Where were the wires? More imcomplete reporting!

Posted by: dottie_b | December 28, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

This post would be better if it were clear where the burning wires were, and whether DCFD was able to extinguish them before PEPCO cut power to them. As it reads, it's very unclear why the homeowner connects the downed wires to the fire. The wires could have been burning in the yard and extinquished expeditiously by the fire department, or burning on the roof for hours until PEPCO cut the power.

Posted by: Erasma | December 28, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I don't know what the problem with Pepco management is, but in the last five years the reliability of the service has become third world and Pepco responsiveness has deteriorated to the point that is futile to call them when problems arise. And the reason it is futile is tat created a false sense of security in the part of the caller who thinks his action will bring relief.

In another industry, the Board of Directors would have brought a different management team, but Pepco's strategy over the past ten years has been to rely on the work of high paid lawyers and public relations consultants and invest on direct and indirect political contribution to the war chest of elected officials at the city, county and state levels in order to curry their favor when Pepco wants to raise fees, get tax breaks or weather public crisis created by inept management. At the end, the people at fault are voters who continue to support candidates who are in the pockets of all kinds of special interests.

Posted by: GoodAmerican | December 28, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

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