Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Woodlawn residents blame Progress Energy for damaging incidents

Woodlawn neighbors Evan Jones, left, and Lynn Woolums say troubles began with the power pole to the left. Jones said his losses total $2,000. Woolums tallies his losses at about $3,000.

SCOTT KEELER | Times\uFEFF

Woodlawn neighbors Evan Jones, left, and Lynn Woolums say troubles began with the power pole to the left. Jones said his losses total $2,000. Woolums tallies his losses at about $3,000.

Bama Finocchi's daughters were watching Saturday-morning cartoons when they started yelling that the television was exploding. Lynn Woolums was preparing to go to work when things started popping. At Evan Jones' house the lights began to flicker, and some went out.

For each of the Woodlawn neighbors, it was the beginning of an eventful morning that would bring out three fire engines, one ladder truck, one command vehicle, one squad truck and one rescue truck, along with television cable and electric company crews.

In the end, the neighbors said, the electrical problems caused thousands of dollars in damage to household appliances and electronic equipment, including computers.

They blame Progress Energy for what they think was a power surge and filed claims with the utility company to recover their loss.

Progress Energy has rejected the claims. The homeowners have now turned to the Florida Public Service Commission to resolve the case.

Last week, Finocchi recalled the May incident.

"It's Saturday morning just around 9 and not a cloud in the sky. Suddenly there was an explosion in my electrical box, which is in my master bedroom.

My children started screaming that the television was exploding, the dogs started barking, and then the next thing that started happening was that lights started surging, like just super bright, and stayed bright,'' she said.

Finocchi rushed her children outdoors. Minutes later, she and neighbors spotted smoke coming from her attic.

It turned out to be a small fire caused by electrical wires that burned some insulation, said deputy fire marshal Lt. Joel Granata of St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue.

For Woolums and Jones, that day's problem was nothing new. They had experienced electrical problems in November and March.

"Again we had a situation where the power upstairs, the lights were flickering and then downstairs, they were completely off," Jones said.

"I went to check in the neighborhood and looked down the block and saw the top power cable had fallen into the Bright House Networks cable. I came back, and I turned off all the circuit breakers in my house, but not before my son realized that something was wrong and there were sparks coming out of the power strip, and the fan accelerated and there were different things happening.''

Woolums said when Progress Energy employees responded to an incident in November, they explained that the problem was caused by connections from a pole behind his house.

"They said we'll switch them out, and then they left. If they fixed it, how come it happened two more times?" he asked.

In March, he said, "Things started popping in the house. … All of a sudden, within 10 or 15 minutes, there were four Progress Energy people there again, and it was the pole across the street. They seemed to know exactly what it was.''

In May, "That's when I went outside and saw the line on fire,'' Woolums said, adding that smoke was coming from his home's main electrical panel.

"That's when I shut everything down. Then Bama (Finocchi) started yelling. I ran next door. The same thing was happening to her. I shut off all her stuff with a broom.''

The deputy fire marshal said the department got three calls in a row that morning from Woodlawn — at 9:11, 9:24 and 9:31. The problem could have been caused by one of several electrical issues, he said, one of which could have been a power surge.

Progress Energy spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs said the November and March incidents were outages, not surges, and unrelated to what happened that Saturday morning.

"In May, there was an unforeseen equipment failure, and unfortunately that did not meet the standard where we would meet claims,'' she said.

"They are playing word games when, in fact, they need to take some kind of responsibility,'' Woolums said.

An outage "wouldn't have blown all these different appliances all up and down the neighborhood. They are minimizing and using their technical jargon and knowledge of the minutiae of their industry to circumvent their responsibility.''

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at wmoore@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2283.

Woodlawn residents blame Progress Energy for damaging incidents 09/06/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 8, 2008 1:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bail hearing underway for woman accused in Selmon crash that killed three

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Amber Nicole Perera sobbed and hung her head at the defendant's table Wednesday as prosecutors displayed photos of the charred remains of a Tampa family who died in a flaming crash that Perera is accused of causing Thursday on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway.

    Angela Perera, charged with DUI manslaughter in a crash that killed three on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway on Aug. 10, 2017, bows her head as she appears in court on Aug. 16, 2017. Circuit Judge Margaret Taylor tells Perera to compose herself or she'll be removed from courtroom. [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
  2. Gradebook podcast: Polk County School Board member Billy Townsend on education reform

    Blogs

    Billy Townsend doesn't mince words. He considers Florida's education accountability system a fraud. He's likened the state Legislature to an abusive spouse. And he does it all in public, whether at the board table or on his blog. A former …

    Polk School Board member Billy Townsend
  3. Wesley Chapel man accused of possession of child porn

    Crime

    WESLEY CHAPEL — A Wesley Chapel man was arrested Tuesday morning after authorities say he tried to buy child pornography from more than 10 users on a social networking app called MeetMe.

    Ryan Soto, 25, of Wesley Chapel was arrested Tuesday morning after authorities say he tried to buy child pornography from users on a social networking app called MeetMe.
  4. There's a local memorial for Linkin Park's Chester Bennington this weekend

    Music & Concerts

    Because he sang so often, and so passionately, about the trials of pushing through pain and desperation, Linkin Park fans have taken the July 20 suicide of singer Chester Bennington really hard.

    Chester Bennington, left, performs during the MMRBQ Music Festival 2015 in Camden, N.J. Hundreds of Linkin Park fans are gathering to pay tribute to late singer weeks after his death. (Associated Press [2015])
  5. Where to pig out for National Bacon Lovers Day

    Food & Dining

    That's right: Sunday is the national day devoted to all things bacon, National Bacon Lovers Day. Which, really, isn't too different from the other 364 days of the year. But here's a little roundup of some special places to celebrate everyone's favorite meat snack (seriously, even vegans have a grudging respect …

    A creme-filled doughnut topped with maple frosting and bacon at Dough on MacDill Avenue in Tampa.