House fire spurs Duke Energy to stop electric car charging across NC

Published: Nov. 8, 2011 at 3:53 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 8, 2011 at 3:54 PM EST
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Source: Siemens
Source: Siemens

MOORESVILLE, NC (WBTV) - A house fire in Lake Norman is attracting national attention.

Teams from the federal government and from some of the nation's biggest companies are on the scene wanting to find out the cause.

It's what was in the garage that has investigators concerned.

Investigators are trying to find out if an electric car charging station is to blame.

On Tuesday, Duke Energy announced that it's asking its customers participating in an electric cars pilot program to stop using their home's electric charging station while the blaze is being investigated.

The fire started in the garage of a home on Cade's Cove Lane on Lake Norman outside Mooresville.  It happened a week ago Sunday.

And on Tuesday, investigators from the Iredell Fire Marshal's office were still at the scene.

They're now getting assistance from Siemens (the maker of the charging station) and from General Motors (manufacturer of the Chevy Volt electric car that was in the garage).

Duke Energy and the federal government are also helping in the investigation.

The homeowner was one of 25 of Duke's customers in North and South Carolina and 100 customers in Indiana whose energy use with the electric car is being tracked by the utility.

Right now it's advising those customers to stop charging their vehicles at home - just to be on the safe side.

"We do feel confident that the device has a number of safety features built into it.. that's one of the reasons we went with this device. They're being installed all over the nation and from what we understand there has been no issues with the devices. So we are confident in the device," says Paige Layne, a Duke Energy spokesperson.

The fire started in the garage where the car was.  But officials say there are a number of points of origin inside the garage not related to the charging station that could be the culprit.

The fire marshal hasn't determine a cause.

Crews are taking everything out of the garage - going over everything.  The investigation could take several more days.

Officials say the point of origin could be the car or the charging station, could be something else in the garage or could be spontaneous combustion.

They add the cause could be the electrical wiring - something between the wall receptacle and the home's breaker box could be to blame.

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