I don’t believe I am making light of anyone’s misfortune but…
Someone on my block was running a generator 24-7 for at least 3 weeks. Generators are not quiet. In the day, it was no matter and it was getting cold so I wasn’t spending much time outdoors. At night it was a minor annoyance as I could hear it from my bedroom window. I countered it with a little heater fan I sometimes ran. It was a little irritating, but not irritating enough to follow through with an inquiry to the city about whether or not it was legal to run a generator 24 hours a day for a week or more.
I had ventured out in the alley and did not see the generator, but I could tell which house it came from just from the sound alone. I saw several extension cords, including the well known bright orange cord coming from something (the generator?) to a window where the cords disappeared into the house. I asked other neighbors if the generator ever cut off because I guessed it was a gas powered generator and they MUST run out of gas sometime. “Oh, they keep refilling it.” I was told.
I figured contractors might be running the blasted thing. Yet I couldn’t figure out what on earth needed to run on power 24 hours a day.
This weekend as I was out Christmas shopping (no tax on clothes & shoes in DC) there was a fire. My neighbors down the block saw it. At first they thought it was another trash can fire, but when the firetrucks showed up they knew it was much bigger. The house with the generator caught fire.
The damage was the loss of part of the rear of the house and some neighboring vinyl siding. Half of the rear was brick and the other half was wood shingles. The wood shingle part was completely gone and the siding that was next to the shingles melted away. The brick was just blackened. The window on the brick side, where the cords once were was broken. The house next to the brick side seemed ok.
When I walked by to take a closer look I could see that the house was not a big contract job like I first thought. People were living there. The fire left exposed a bathroom, with all the stuff that one finds in a bathroom. And when I passed there was a woman inside looking over the damage.
I hazarded a guess when describing the whole thing to a friend, that maybe it was the generator. ‘Cause really, I don’t think those things can stand up to constant use for several weeks straight. My friend suggested that maybe they were trying to live off the grid. When I think living off the grid I think solar panels, fewer fossil fuels, and more late 19th century and early 20th century methods of living.
Well it is now quiet at night.
Well there were other neighbors who were annoyed with the general humming of the generator and like me were too lazy to bother with reporting it. I did learn that you need a permit to run a generator 24-7 in a residential neighborhood. In the end we all failed. As neighbors we failed to alert the authorities and the renters running the generator failed to sweep up all those damned dry leaves around the generator. And so, we had the fire because we all failed.