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Fire Officials: Generators pose risks for residents with power shutoffs

Posted at 5:08 PM, Oct 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-31 20:24:17-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Many residents in the Tehachapi and Stallion Springs area said that during the power safety shutoffs they are heavily relying on back up generators for electricity, water, food and more.

However, following the Thief Fire that broke out on Wednesday that burned more than seven acres of land and one home, fire officials determined the cause of the fire may have been a family generator but it is still undetermined.

Kern County Fire officials said the origin of the fire was outside of the house right next to the generator and therefore they still want to remind everyone to be cautious when using a generator for power.

"We don't want to have it inside of a home or anywhere near a home where carbon monoxide can blow inside," Bakersfield Fire Department Public Information Officer, Casey Snow explained. "Keep it at least 20 feet away from windows and doors, keep in in an outdoor area."

Many community members like Stallion Springs resident, April Drury, said they understand that power companies like Southern California Edison have to take fire safety precautions by shutting off the power in some of the mountain communities.

However, Drury said that it forces several residents to rely heavily on generators, causing another fire concern.

"I think there is an extreme safety concern and as we move into colder temperatures and this continues to happen," Drury said. "People will do what they need to do to get by and I think we are going to be looking at more house fires as was the case yesterday which posed an immediate threat."

With more power safety shutoffs on the way, fire officials are reminding everyone not to overload their generators.

"You don't ever want to connect it directly to a power source," Snow said. "You don't want to overload the generator as well, you want to make sure it's rated for the proper amount of electricity it's going to draw from."

In the meantime, Drury said she and her neighbors are going to do the best that they can to cope without hot water, electricity and more. They hope the power companies will notify them soon about when power is scheduled to be restored.

"This is really important because we need to gather supplies and know if we are able to continue to stay in our homes or we need to leave," Drury added. "Like right now if you look around there's no wind at all and we've received no notification."

23ABC reached out to SCE to find out when they plan to fully restore power to the Stallion Springs and Tehachapi areas and officials told us that there is not an estimated time of when it will be restored.

Officials also said that power restoration is dependent upon the amount of areas that have been impacted by damage.