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Smoke Alarms

June 17, 1986

Get out your investigative reporters. I think there is an important story they are missing that may be vital to everyone's safety.

We recently returned home from an out-of-town trip to be confronted with our hot wired smoke alarm blasting away. It was warning of its own condition, which was in a meltdown. I shut the circuit down and found the ceiling scorched. We had been very close to a fire, and I'm sure would have had a fire if we had not returned home.

Our own investigation found that there had been a power failure in our neighborhood, and when the power returned, it caused a power surge, which in turn caused the meltdown. I also found that apparently this was a quite common occurrence to the Department of Water and Power. The hardware store salesmen where I bought the replacement also was apparently aware of the danger, as he had heard my story before.

We have lived in the same house for 26 years, and never had the least threat of a fire until the Fire Department ordered me to install these apparently dangerous little instruments.

What could have been the greatest boondoggle of all time may just be the most dangerous.

JACK KARNES

Los Angeles

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