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Costco-sold Champion generators recalled for fire risk

Two models of Champion Power Equipment portable generators are being recalled due to fire hazards, The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced Friday.

The announcement comes as many on the East Coast have relied on portable generators in the wake of the destruction caused by the superstorm Sandy, that struck seven days ago.

The models have been recalled because fuel can leak from the generators' carburetors, posing a potential fire risk. Both models affected by the recall have a black frame with black and yellow control panels, a bar handle and two wheels. About 8,600 units in total are affected.

Model number 41332 has an open frame and contains the words "Champion Power Equipment" on the control panel and "8250 starting watts" and "6500 running watts" on the side of the fuel tank. Serial numbers of that model included in the recall range from 11NOV2600701 to 11NOV2601500.

Model number 41532 has side panels that cover the long sides of the fuel tank, the CPSC notes. The words "Champion Power Equipment" are on the side panel above the control panel, and "9000 starting watts" and "7000 running watts" are on the control panel. Serial number ranges for this particular model include 11NOV1400151 to 11NOV1400360, 11DEC0700001 to 11DEC0700720, 11DEC1301077 to 11DEC1402602, 11DEC2201801 to 11DEC2203600, 11DEC2501531 to 11DEC2503330 and 11DEC2801073 to 11DEC2801325.

The generators were sold exclusively at Costco from December 2011 through July 2012 for about $699. The CPSC urges people to stop using the recalled products immediately, and to contact Champion Power Equipment for a free repair kit that authorized dealers can install. Consumers can also choose to return the unit to Costco for a full refund.

Health officials warn that those using generators and other alternate power and heating sources in the wake of Sandy could face risk for potentially deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.

Tips to reduce risk include never running a generator where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area, never running a generator inside a basement, garage or enclosed structure inside the home -- even if the windows are open - and to keep vents and flues free of debris.

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