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Woodbury Fire Dept.: Lithium-ion batteries to blame for 5 house fires in past 4 months

Lithium-ion batteries have been the cause of several housefires around the Twin Cities
Lithium-ion batteries have been the cause of several housefires around the Twin Cities 02:19

WOODBURY, Minn. — At least five Woodbury houses have caught on fire because of a now-common item. According to investigators, those fires were all sparked by lithium-ion batteries.

Some of the fires led to widespread damage, including one home that was a total loss.

Lithium-ion batteries are what's in your laptop, headphones, and most of the devices that need to be recharged. They have special cords for the wall and your device. If you use the wrong ones, that's a problem that can have devastating consequences.

In one of the fires, investigators say a lawnmower battery overheated and melted in the garage. Some nearby rags and paper towels then caught fire. In another case, it was a power drill that ignited the fire. A third incident started as a result of an airsoft gun, which blew up, setting fire to a teenager's bedroom and then the whole house. Luckily, no one was hurt.

The Woodbury Fire Department says the five fires they investigated all happened in just the last four months.

"If you look at them, they range anywhere from small laptops and cellphones to our lawn and maintenance tools to electric vehicles, e-bikes and scooters that are coming out now," Fire Marshal Kevin Lynch said. "(The signs) ranged from anywhere from an odor in the home to smoke and flame that people were seeing."

RELATED: Lithium-ion battery fires from electric cars, bikes and scooters are on the rise. Are firefighters ready?

The risk isn't only about what's being charged, but also where.

"We've had devices where people will leave them on the floor or carpet versus granite counter top or wooden table," Lynch said. "You get the overheating of the product, and then the carpet is more combustible allows the heat to catch fire and run to other things that are combustible."

Fire crews offer several critical tips:

  • Read the label and know the voltage and rating.
  • Stop charging batteries once they're full.
  • Charge devices on hard surfaces, like desks, tables or counters.
  • Only use the batteries that are designated for their devices, and the charging equipment that comes with them.

The risk of batteries catching fire extends beyond the home. If you're traveling, check with your airline and the TSA for rules regarding where and how to pack devices with lithium-ion batteries, including backup phone chargers.

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