Man suffers burns when generator explodes in Cornwallis

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier
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CORNWALLIS - A man suffered serious burns to his arms and head when gas fumes exploded as he checked on a generator at a community centre in Cornwallis Park.

The community centre has been serving warm meals and tea and coffee the last two days after post-tropical storm Arthur knocked out power Saturday, July 5.

The generator was running in a special room in the back of the building, which fronts on Broadway.

A volunteer with the Cornwallis Park Community Association went to check on the generator about 2 p.m. Monday, July 7 after power had come on temporarily and then gone out again.

Candi Peck, supervisor with the Annapolis Maintenance Services, was working just across the yard in another building when she heard an explosion and then heard the man yell “Fire, Fire.”

She called 911 and helped the man inside.

He told her the generator was bogging out and he lifted the gas cap to make sure it had fuel.

“He admitted it wasn’t the right thing to do,” she said.

She said he was able to walk and alert despite minor burns to his arms and quite serious burns to his head.

Paramedics took the man to hospital for treatment.

Other members of the association used two chemical fire extinguishers and then a garden hose to extinguish the fire before Bear River Fire Department arrived on scene.

The day before in Smith’s Cove, a resident just happened to arrive home in time to find the generator had somehow set fire to the wall of the attached garage where it was operating.

Digby fire chief Robert Morgan says generator fires like these aren’t common, probably because we don’t have many extended power outages.

“But because we aren’t used to running generators people have to be very careful about remembering a few safety rules when we do need them,” he said. “Generators should only be operated outdoors and you should never leave them unattended, and before you check the gas or add fuel, you have to turn them off and let cool down completely.”


Tips for the safe operation of a home generator from Kings Regional Emergency Organization:


·       Ventilation, ventilation ventilation. Always run internal combustion engines outdoors regardless of the type of fuel it uses. Carbon Monoxide is Carbon Monoxide regardless if it is from a gas engine, diesel or propane.

·         When using a generator that has not been connected by the use of an approved transfer switching device, automatic or manual, never connect to the electrical system.Even if you think that turning off your main breaker/switch makes things safe, you still have the potential of sending voltage out of your home, endangering the crews who are working on the lines to get safe power back to you. Not to mention if the power comes back on, you could lose that great new generator you bought when it shorts it out, not to mention the fridge, TV and other electronic devices in the home.

·         Know your generator. Know what outlet is what voltage most generators are multi voltage, insure you connect to the proper outlet for the appliance you are connecting.

·         If you do not have a transfer switch simply run an extension cord to the appliance you want to operate. That is the safest way.

·         Ground you generator as per the owner's manual. You are still dealing with electricity and the shock from a generator is the same as from any other power source, it will kill.

·         Safe refueling: never fuel a hot generator let it cool down for a while, and never, never refuel while running.

·         If you have any questions, contact a licensed electrician.


— Kings Regional Emergency Organization 








Organizations: Cornwallis Park Community Association, Annapolis Maintenance Services, Kings Regional Emergency Organization

Geographic location: Cornwallis, Broadway

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