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Charging battery cause of weekend house fire
A lithium-ion battery that was in the process of being charged caused a house fire at 843 E. Palo Verde St. over the weekend.
According to Yuma Fire Department spokesman Mike Erfert, firefighters responded to the home at about 11 a.m. Saturday. Once on scene, they found smoke inside the residence and a fire burning in one of the bedrooms.
Erfert said the fire was contained to the bedroom, due to a door being closed, and it was quickly extinguished by firefighters. Heat and smoke damage was limited to the bedroom where the fire originated, he added, with a small amount of fire damage extending into the attic.
The occupants were not home at the time of the fire, Erfert said, but a family friend was having a yard sale in front of the house and heard the smoke alarm going off inside the home. He said when the friend went inside they saw heavy smoke and reported the fire.
Erfert said investigators later determined the lithium-ion battery, which was for a remote control, or R/C, car, was the cause of the fire. He explained that the battery became very hot and ignited the carpet it was sitting on and a pillow that was leaning against it.
"There is the potential for a lot of heat building up," Erfert said. "So it really comes down to never leaving them to charge on, in or near combustible materials."
This is not an isolated incident for lithium-ion batteries, according to Erfert. He warns people who use these batteries and chargers to check for product recalls. Also, follow the manufacturer's instructions and don’t leave batteries unattended while charging.
"We have seen these things happen and it is a concern," Erfert added.
Fires grow quickly and can double in size every minute. In this case, Erfert said, a working smoke alarm and someone who was alerted to the fire by the alarm combined for an early fire department response and helped reduce the amount of damage to the home.
James Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.