OKLAHOMA CITY — Power was out on the 3900 block of Northwest 14th street for four days after the May 31st storms. Jack Hollingsworth was happy to get the call at work two weeks ago that his power had been restored, but as soon as he flipped the switch everything was fried.
“The air conditioner, the board was fried, the transformer was fried, the refrigerator, microwave.” said Hollingsworth “This is just my house. Two televisions, a Wii and oven. Everything that basically wasn’t plugged into the surge protector.”
They had 250 volts running through their 110 volt wires and as much as $10,000 in damage. At least six houses down the street were affected. When Hollingsworth’s neighbor, Dennis Webb, turned everything on in his mother’s house, they smelled smoke.
“My mother turned her light bulbs on and they blew,” said Webb. “The ceiling fan was on slow but it was turning like it was a prop to an airplane.”
The neighborhood, worried about a fire, quickly filed a claim with OG&E and received a formal letter back.
“Basically it’s storm related and they’re not responsible,” said Hollingsworth.
OG&E spokeswoman Kathleen O’Shea says they have investigated the area but found a different story.
“My understanding is there was possibly an outage and then some trees fell on some lines and after that it impacted the customers stuff,” said O’Shea. “But we haven’t found that it was something we did that caused that to happen.”
Matt Smith of Baxter Electronics says the appliances just can’t handle that much power. To demonstrate, he fed 110 volts through one light bulb and 220 volts through another. One was so bright it looked like it could blow any minute. He also ran an exhaust fan off of the same 220 volts. It just dies minutes later after it’s wires are fried.
“When I came home I tried to turn it all on and the lights blew,” said Hollingsworth. “The refrigerator was making a loud noise.”
After Hollingsworth and his neighbors filed claims with OG&E, the electronic company said they have found no wrongdoing on their end.
“We do investigate and try and find out what happened,” said O’Shea. “But again when it is storm related like this we can’t take responsibility for that.”
They say it has nothing to do with power being restored and they will be denying the claims. Regardless of what really happened O’Shea wants the neighborhood to know what they can do to protect themselves next time.
“It is probably just again another thing to remember that when you are having really bad storms sometimes it helps to turn off the appliances if you can,” said O’Shea.