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People Trapped In Garages During Wine Country Wildfires Inspire New Law

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) —  Governor Brown signed a bill Friday requiring automatic garage door openers to have a backup battery designed to operate during electrical outages.

The bill was inspired by the wildfires in Wine County last year that destroyed many homes. During the wildfires, California Senator Bill Dodd could not open his wooden garage door because the power was already out in his Napa neighborhood.

The remains of at least five people were found where garages once stood.

"We absolutely cannot allow something like this, that is so easily corrected, to happen again," said Senator Dodd, D-Napa. "My bill requiring garage doors to have backup batteries will ensure no one is left vulnerable in the event of a future power failure during such a calamity."

READ: California To Audit DMV Amid Hourslong Wait Times, Outages

Most garages come equipped with overrides, including a string to pull allowing you to manually open the garage door, or a special key.

The newly signed bill applies to automatic garage door openers manufactured for sale, sold, or installed in California. The law also prohibits replacement garage door openers from being installed without backup batteries, regardless of the date of manufacture of the opener.

Starting on July 1, 2019, violators can be fined up to $1,000 per opener installed, manufactured, sold, or offered for sale which is not in compliance with the law.

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