Generator sparks fiery house blaze in Dearborn Heights

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Video snapshots from Facebook user Ken Cottongim.

More than half a million customers still without power tonight. Many might have to wait until Sunday night. Some who don't have power are firing up their generators for one local couple, that decision had disastrous results.

That generator caught fire between 6:30 and about 7 p.m. spreading to the house causing a considerable amount of damage. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

The elderly couple living near Lehigh and Banner was able to rescue their dog and get out in time before the flames spread throughout the house. FOX 2 was told they had just bought the generator to power their home. Sadly, they got a lot more than they bargained for.

"In this instance, it was a little close to the wall," said Sean Payne, Dearborn Heights Fire Department. "There were oxygen tanks being stored on the inside of the patio. So what happened is it overheated. Maybe got some of that oxygen from the oxygen tanks which increased its ability to burn and caught fire."

Investigators have a lot of questions to answer, particularly did the homeowner check the oil before he set up that generator and also, did he use the right kind of fuel with that generator.  And the exhaust may have been pointed toward the house. That didn't help things either.

"Everything went black because it quit," said homeowner Jim Kirby. "Then my wife said it caught fire."

Now it's back at square one as DTE Energy works around the clock to restore power to more than thousand customers.

Dearborn's police and fire departments hand out dry ice to residents looking to salvage what's in their fridges and freezers. But for some living in a cold dark house is too much to ask.

So they're checking into nearby hotels and staying until the lights are back on at home.

For Eric Munroe of Dearborn Heights the lights never went off. He got a 10,000-watt generator from his dad and it's powering his entire house. 

Payne says he and others should take caution. Owners need to keep generators at least 15 feet from the house and never inside the house.