By Miriam Raftery
Photo via Fire District 1, Edmonds, Wash. Home destroyed by a portable generator fire
December 6, 2020 (San Diego)—Generators have sparked several wildfires in California, ironically during power outages planned by utility companies to prevent fires. While generators are vital for many homeowners to operate electric well pumps, lights, refrigerators, computers, medical equipment and other necessities during prolonged outages, generators can pose hazards if not not used or maintained properly. Explosions, electric shocks, electrocution, hearing loss from noise, vibration hazards, and carbon monoxide poisoning from exhaust are all potential risks from generators.
Last year, three fires caused by generators during power shut-offs by PG&E were reported in Nevada County, CA, Wildfire Today reported. This week, the Bond Fire that has scored over 7,300 acres in Orange County may have been triggered by a faulty domestic generator, according to Reuters. Neighbors have said that a generator exploded when a homeowner without power tried to start up the generator, though fire authorities have not yet confirmed the wildfire’s cause.
The Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) have published guidelines on how to use portable generators safely. Below are highlights from the OSHA advice: