AUGUSTA — The sound of gas-powered generators has filled the air across much of Maine this week, but the risks of placing an internal combustion engine too close to a building became apparent to one Augusta family on Wednesday.

Around 6 a.m., the residents of a two-story home at 35 Lone Indian Trail woke to the discovery that a fire had started in the wall of their living room, next to the generator they were using after a storm wiped out power to their home earlier this week.

“The generator was too close to the siding of the building, resulting in igniting the exterior siding,” said John Bennett, a battalion chief in the Augusta Fire Department.

Upon discovering the fire, the homeowner and her three children left the building with their dog and attacked the blaze with water and a dry-chemical extinguisher. It then took firefighters about 30 minutes to get the fire under control.

The homeowner’s actions “helped limit the damage and slowed the fire down until we got there,” Bennett said.

The damage was limited to the wall of the home nearest the living room. While the building might need some repairs, the residents probably will be able to continue living there, Bennett said.


As thousands of Mainers still wait for their power to be restored after the large storm earlier this week, the fire should serve as a reminder to property owners to operate their portable generators in a ventilated area that’s a safe distance from buildings and flammable objects, Bennett said.

Besides being able to start fires, the machines also emit carbon monoxide, an odorless gas that can lead to poisoning when inhaled.

While some guidelines have recommended that generators be placed 15 feet from a home, more recent research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that the machines might need to be placed as much as 25 feet from a home to prevent the dangerous chemical from entering.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

Twitter: @ceichacker

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