Verizon tech sets fire to home - accidentally

It's apparently not enough for Verizon to torment customers with unreliable FiOS TV connections, months-long installation ordeals, and an appointment-keeping record worthy of Maryland's regulatory wrath.

Now they're setting a house ablaze and causing a neighborhood power outage in Needham, Mass., a suburb of Boston.

(Update: Be sure to see the note below from Verizon, which contends that the initial report of a fire was erroneous.)

(Update 2: And then read this, which calls into question the first update ... or, more precisely, calls it a crock.) 

I had promised myself to leave Verizon alone today - honestly, it was an actual conscious thought - but then an e-mail pointing to this story popped into my in-box.

A small electrical fire at a Pine Grove Street home Wednesday, Aug. 8 - accidentally caused by a Verizon employee - forced the Fire Department to shut down power to several nearby homes.

"I noticed my TV was flickering off and on, something was wrong," said Thelma Papetti, who lives next door to the fire at 60 Pine Grove St. "Then the fire trucks came."

Was it actually necessary to describe the starting of the fire as accidental? ... I suppose so.

Needham Deputy Fire Chief Al Deiulio tells me that the Verizon technician "was drilling on the outside of the house when he hit an electrical main" and started the fire.

"He's lucky he's not dead," says Deiulio.

Electrical service to the house and a number of nearby homes had to be shut off while firemen attacked the blaze.

Here's the good news, though: The power company got the lights back on for neighbors in short order, damage to the house was minor, and its residents were expected to be able to return within a few days.

There was no word as to whether or not they'll have phone service when they get there.

(Update: Had the Needham firefighters not been so on top of their game, it's nice to know that Verizon has a Disaster Recovery Team standing by for true calamities. Just stumbled on this EE Times story.)

(Update 2: The Consumerist, which of late has been beating Verizon like a rented phone company, wasn't about to let the fire story slip by unnoted.)

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