The fire department says the meters are sometimes gone before investigators can look at them to find out whether their wires might have been damaged, which could lead to a short circuit and a fire.
“A fire is considered a crime scene and at a crime scene evidence should be left alone,” said France Voiselle, a department spokeswoman.
But Patrice Lavoie, a spokesman for Hydro-Québec, said the meters belong to the public utility and the meters don't cause fires.
“We are totally entitled to bring them back to our office,” he said.
“But in that case has it been too quick? That's what we're trying to figure out.”
The more likely culprit is the box that holds the smart meter, if it’s not properly installed, Lavoie said.
He said Hydro-Québec doesn’t install the boxes and aren’t its responsibility.
“That belongs to the client that doesn't belong to Hydro Quebec,” he said.
“It's your own electrician."
Lavoie said a professional association of electricians in Quebec has sent a letter to all their members reminding them to check up on their clients' boxes.