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Officials warn of fire dangers from alternative heat sources used during power outages

Posted at 10:09 PM, Dec 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-28 05:35:02-05

According to Cleveland Public Power, the outage that left 40,000 customers in the dark Tuesday night was the result of an equipment failure, but they don’t know how it happened, or if it’ll happen again.

Officials said the repair they made fixed Tuesday night’s issue, but that customers should be prepared for an outage at any time.

“It basically erupted in flames and spilled out oil,” said Ivan Henderson, CPP Commissioner.

Henderson told reporters during a press conference Wednesday, he had no idea how the fire started and an investigation could take up to a week.

“An outage can happen at any time for any reason. We are confident that this repair will hold. It will hold indefinitely, so we do not expect any more issues with this repair, it should be fine,” he said.

Henderson was quick to note major infrastructure improvements will likely lessen the severity of wide-spread outages.

“We had a two, or three hour outage yesterday, it could’ve been a 30 minute outage as we make these additional upgrades to our system,” he said.

“It’s not ideal. I’ve got my daughter and my wife, she’s seven months pregnant, so just blankets and staying close together until who knows when,” said Robert Mendoza, an Old Brooklyn resident who lost power Tuesday.

40,000 customers, many in Old Brooklyn, had to huddle in their cars for warmth. Some even used their gas stoves to heat their homes.

“It becomes an extremely scary situation because people are trying to generate heat in their homes when necessarily, they don’t have to,” said TJ Martin, public information officer with the Parma Fire Department.

If the power does go out again, a warning from fire officials - a gas stove is the last place you want to try and get heat.

“When ovens and pilot lights and stove tops are turned on, it creates unnecessary carbon monoxide, which is more of a dangerous condition than the cold temperatures,” said Martin.

As temperatures remain frigid this week, if you experience an outage, the best thing to do is head out and spend the night with friends or family that have heat, fire officials say.