Generator sparks fire outside Aberdeen home

Investigators say power cut off for non-payment
Posted at 5:24 PM, Sep 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-20 18:18:21-04

Images show where the fire climbed the back wall of the house on Baltimore Street in Aberdeen Tuesday night, and you can see where Andre Beniquez tried to pull the generator and gasoline can away from the home.
Senior Deputy State Fire Marshal Oliver Alkire says a simple mistake sparked the fire.

"Our investigators arrived and determined that Mr. Beniquez was refueling the generator and while he was refueling it, it was actually running," said Alkire.
Inside the home, five family members scrambled to escape, as Beniquez tried in vain to put the fire out.
Investigators would later learn that he had only used the generator out of necessity.

"During the investigation we found out that BGE actually came in and shut his power off due to the lack of payment,” said Alkire, “He was trying to do the right thing.  He went to Home Depot, purchased a gas-powered generator in hopes of restoring some power to his home."
But a nearby neighbor, Troy Dawson, is far less dismissive of the mishap.

"All it is is nothing, but stupidity.  That's all it is,” said Dawson, “If you may have to use a generator, have common sense enough to sit it away from the house and turn it off when you want to refuel it."
Dawson says the previous renters in that same home used a generator in their basement and paramedics had to race the whole family to the hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning.
This time, he claims the mishandling of the generator could have put neighbors' lives and property at risk as well.

"Embers and everything.  If it did get kicked off as close as the houses sit to each other, embers could fly out and catch any of the houses on fire, and I'm not too particular,” said Dawson, “I've got about a year and three months left on mine before it's paid off.  I'd rather live in it, instead of have to burn it down."
It was also a costly mistake, since the same family that couldn't afford its electric bills suffered the loss of the new generator, as well as an estimated $5,000 in damage to the house.