Electric Meter on Fire

How could this happen? Electric Meter on Fire.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaSPaF7n-OE

And then there's this high voltage blast. I guess the insulator must have fried????
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PaeJ3G3F6Y

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On Mar 1, 2:03 am, snipped-for-privacy@invalid.com wrote:

Many years ago a major ice storm hit our area. I can see a transformer on a pole from my front window and another from my back window. Within one 15 minute period, I saw both of them start to smoke and then blow up. I just happened to be looking at the right thing at the right time. It was pretty cool!
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at night transfomers blowing make a pretty green glow. i was sitting on a porch one nite the sky lite up green, on way hme saw power company replacing transformer.
beautiful shade of green
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If, for example, the conduit (that goes thru the wall from the meter base) itself wasn't sealed, the conduit will pass a lot of air. The air will often have a lot of moisture, and it can cause the electrical connections at either end to corrode and fail.
A house two doors away from where we used to live burned to the ground because what you see on the outside in that video, happened on the _inside_ of the house, and the steel panel didn't contain it well enough.
--
Chris Lewis,

Age and Treachery will Triumph over Youth and Skill
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No the meter is on the outside as usual, however the electrical fire was on the inside (the main panel main breaker connections self-destructing) instead of the outside (presumably meter base connector). You can just imagine the consequences of a super-hot electrical fire like that happening in a basement - burned thru the main panel metal housing and set the (standard wooden framing, concrete foundation, possibly finished basement) structure on fire. House was built around 1970-1975 - before, I think, non-flammable backstops were required for panels.
Remember in many houses, the entrance conduit between the meter base and main panel is less than a foot long - without air seal, the main panel main breaker compartment is "open" to the meter base. Electrical corrosion (due to moist air blast thru the conduit) can happen at either (or both) ends.
This is why codes now call for drywall (or other non-flammable) material under electrical panels. And why it's _real_ important to get the conduit ends sealed properly.

I have not yet seen a plastic meter base. As you mention below, this is a commercial structure, so they may not be allowed to use plastic boxes. At least with plumbing, commercial/industrial structures here MUST use metal. Always. No plastic DWV allowed.

Probably. But for the want of about $2 of dux seal, they could have lost the whole building. Our ex-neighbors lost their house.
You can just imagine the situation in car washes in cold climates - large amounts of warm/hot water, road salt/grit spray etc, blowing thru an improperly sealed conduit when the door is closed. It could have happened at either end.
If that video is of a car wash in a cold climate area that uses road salt (and maybe even if it doesn't), it was probably salt/grit-conductivity that initiated the conductive path that ultimately destroyed the meter base (and whatever else it took with it). Prior to the fire initiation, the inside of both the main panel and meter base were probably dripping wet.
--
Chris Lewis,

Age and Treachery will Triumph over Youth and Skill
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