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Experts Warn Against Storing 9-Volt Batteries In 'Junk Drawer' Due To Fire Hazard

PITTSBURGH (CBS) -- Do you have a "junk drawer" somewhere in your house?

Most people do, and most of us probably don't give a second thought to what we put in it.

But we probably should since there may be items that when thrown in together can start a fire.

People have all sorts of stuff in a "junk drawer." But one of those things could cause a fire - a 9-volt battery.

Firefighters showed why it's a danger.

With fire extinguishers and a crew standing by, Chief Kevin MacCaffrie demonstrated.

"The potential is there," says Chief MacCaffrie. "There's a lot of things in a normal junk drawer that do burn, and apparently the ignition source was a 9-volt battery."

Chief MacCaffrie put items like keys, the clip of a pen and paper clips on the battery and set it next to a tissue. In minutes, the battery heated up.

"I suggest you not touch that battery," he said.

In about 10 minutes, it had already browned the tissue. The same process works even faster with steel wool.

The battery warning surprised homeowners. Pat Kelley didn't realize her junk drawer was full of things that could cause a fire.

"We didn't know that," she said. "My husband nor I would even think of that."

She'll now heed the fire marshal's warning and separate her 9-volts.

Chief MacCaffrie says there are easy solutions.

"Just take a piece of electrical tape and put it across the battery and you have no chance," he said.

It's a simple move to protect your house from a common but very real risk.

Experts say it's also dangerous to store 9-volt batteries in containers with other batteries.

In fact, a house fire in July in New Hampshire was caused by a 9-volt battery that was stored in a plastic bag with other batteries and rubbed up against them, igniting the fire.

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