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Lithia couple sues Tampa Electric Co. for house fire

They claim an arced power line sent 7,000 volts of electricity through their home.
The Colts claim their house fire was started by an arcing Tampa Electric Co. power line.
The Colts claim their house fire was started by an arcing Tampa Electric Co. power line. [ GoFundMe ]
Published Jun. 25
Updated Jun. 25

A Lithia couple is suing the Tampa Electric Co. claiming an arcing power line sent 7,000 volts of electricity through their home and started a fire.

Michael and Carol Colt say the utility knew of overgrown vegetation near the power line and that it had arced before, according to their lawsuit. Arcing occurs when an electric current flows through the air, rather than the intended equipment.

Its “overcurrent protection equipment was not working properly,” the Colts claim.

On June 4, 2020, the incident destroyed the Colts’ beige, one-story house off of County Road 640 in southeastern Hillsborough County.

The lawsuit claims Carol suffered a significant electrical shock.

When Carol fled through the yard with her two children, electricity traveled beneath their feet, the lawsuit says. It claims the mother felt “tingling in her toes and fingertips.” Numbness in her toes has persisted since, as have nightmares, according to the lawsuit, which says she struggles with possible post-traumatic stress disorder.

The couple is seeking damages for what they claim was gross negligence.

A spokesperson for the Tampa Electric Co. declined to comment on “pending litigation.”

A preliminary report from an engineer, hired by the Colts, laid blame on the utility.

“There are reasonable steps [Tampa Electric] could have taken to prevent this loss which were not taken,” wrote Curtis Falany, a forensic electrical engineer in Plant City.

According to a Facebook post, the couple has began building another home on the same lot. A GoFundMe for the family raised $3,850.

The Colts filed a very similar negligence lawsuit against Tampa Electric in January.

The couple amended the complaint after the utility filed a motion to dismiss the case, saying the Colts had failed to state a cause of action for gross negligence or financial relief.