TITUSVILLE, Fla. - People in Titusville say power poles are leaning, and power lines are hanging low to the ground. After years of their calls going unanswered, they turned to FOX 35 News.
Days after we started asking questions, a video showed crews out making repairs. The power line problem in the Hickory Hill neighborhood isn’t fixed entirely, though. And it’s being blamed for a fire that destroyed a family’s home.
An arm of a City of Titusville yard waste truck got caught on a power line, sparking the fire. The Fire Department’s report on the incident states crews went to that neighborhood for possible structure fires with live power lines down, which it attributes to the boom truck hitting a power line.
"Multiple homes were affected with burnt outlets due to a power surge. The cause of this fire was electrical due to a power surge," the report reads.
That was Stephanie Morgan’s house.
"I can’t help but think it was completely avoidable," she told FOX 35.
Stephanie Morgan says she’d been reaching out about the tilting poles and low-hanging power lines for about three years.
"The fact that it was after I had already reached out so many times, the fact that it was our house just feels so cruel and ironic," said Morgan.
The two entities involved are Florida Power and Light and AT&T.
"What I’ve reported to both of them before is that it’s a threat to life and limb," explained Morgan. "We see the poles sway in the breeze. The power lines are so low, you can reach out and touch them."
The first thing FOX 35 News did after speaking to Stephanie was reach out to FPL to get answers. The agency told us the same thing it told Morgan: it doesn’t own the pole she’s been calling about. FPL leases it from AT&T.
FOX 35 then contacted AT&T and received the following statement:
"We’re working to replace a section of our cable after it was recently pulled down by a third party, high-clearance vehicle. We’ve reached out to the affected homeowners as we continue our investigation into the incident."
The thing is, Morgan isn’t the only one in that area with this issue. Frank Mastroianni lives a couple of streets down from Morgan in the same neighborhood.
"It’s getting worse all the time," Mastroianni told FOX 35.
He says he’s also been reporting a power line behind his house that hangs low enough for someone to touch it.
"Always assured it was going to get fixed, and it just hasn’t," he said. "I’ve called FPL I don’t know how many times."
FPL confirmed to FOX 35 it owns the pole near Mastroianni’s property, and confirmed they would straighten that leaning pole. FOX 35 pushed for more answers, asking for a timeline, to which FPL said they plan to have the situation resolved by August 20th, about a week after we reached out. Frank contacted us on August 24, saying FPL finally showed up.
"They put two more guide wires in, pulled the pole back, and it looks like it worked."
FPL confirms repairs were made. FOX 35 went back out to the property and you can definitely notice the difference compared to the previous visit.
"As egregious as that was, as dangerous as that was, it shouldn’t have taken getting the media out here to do something," said Mastroianni. "Thanks to ya’ll, they came out and fixed the power lines.
Mastroianni is grateful the situation was resolved before the power line in his backyard caused any injuries. Meanwhile, the Morgan family is just happy no one was hurt in the fire at their home.
"It could’ve been so much worse," said Morgan. "I need to know that someone is going to take the steps to make it better, make it right, and keep people safe."
Right now, the Morgan family is staying in a hotel, but their insurance says the entire house has to have its electrical wiring re-done altogether before they can move back in. They don’t think that’ll be done before Christmas.
AT&T confirmed it’s working to make replacements since the fire at Morgan’s house, but FOX 35 is still awaiting a response from the agency regarding other power poles in the area people are concerned about.