Fire victim warns of solar panel threat lurking in homes
TRISH Davis was forced to watch on helplessly as her home went up in flames - completely unaware the blaze could easily have been prevented.
The Helidon metal fabricator suffered serious burns to her arm requiring skin grafts in the January 10 blaze. It is also likely her house will need to be partially demolished and rebuilt.
The blaze tore through Mrs Davis' dream home, built in 2012 - and started due to her solar panel system's inverter.
She later discovered, had her solar system been installed under new regulations - the fire would likely have not been so devastating.
When the inverter, along with the solar panels was installed in May 2013, Mrs Davis said the regulations preferred the inverter be installed inside the house.
Crucially, there was also no requirement for the inverter's isolation switch, which cuts the connection between the inverter and the panels, to be installed at ground level.
Mrs Davis' was installed on her roof.
This meant when the fire broke out, even with Mrs Davis' effort to extinguish the blaze using a fire blanket and extinguishers, there was little to stop the inverter reigniting.
"Once the inverter became compromised and it's on fire, until you turn that isolation switch off - even if I'd put the fire out - it would have kept sparking fires,” Mrs Davis said
Shockingly - she discovered after she lost her house that regulations had been changed for this very reason.
Inverters must now be installed on an outside wall and the isolation switch must be placed at ground level.
But the changes did little good for Mrs Davis.
"We knew nothing about it,” she said.
"I got rather annoyed - we had not been informed that there was a potential problem and that the regulations had changed.”
She said had known about the changes, she would have made changes.
She is now calling for other solar panel owners in her situation to be made aware of the changes before her tragedy repeats itself.
"I'd like everybody to know about it,” she said.
"There's going to be a death because of it, because they don't know that this is a potential problem.”