Loudoun County Fire and Rescue (LCFR) responded to two fires in Leesburg, Virginia on Wednesday, September 7, 2022. One of the fires was due to an electrical malfunction due to the use of an incompatible cellular phone charger and charging cord. This highlights the importance of LCFR’s efforts to educate the public on Lithium battery safety.
The first fire was dispatched at 9:15 a.m. for a mobile home on fire on South Street in Leesburg. First arriving units found fire showing from a single wide trailer with all occupants out of the structure. Crews made entry and extinguished the fire. Fire and rescue crews remained on the scene to perform salvage and overhaul operations.
The Loudoun County Fire and Rescue Fire Marshal’s Office (LCFR-FMO) have classified the fire as accidental due to a malfunction of a bathtub water heater. Damages are estimated at $60,000 for the structure and $36,000 for contents. One occupant was displaced and will be staying with a family friend. The occupant was evaluated and refused transport to a medical facility for further evaluation. There were no reported firefighter injuries.
The second fire was dispatched at 12:16 p.m. for a structure on fire in the 1100 block of Huntmaster Terrace in Leesburg. The initial caller to the Loudoun County Emergency Communications Center reported that the back of the structure was on fire. First arriving units found a three-story apartment building with fire showing from a third-floor window in the rear of the building. Crews made entry to extinguish the fire and search for any occupants that may have been trapped inside. Later it was confirmed that no occupants were home in the apartment where the fire originated at the time of fire. The fire was knocked down in ten minutes.
The LCFR-FMO have classified the fire as accidental due to an electrical malfunction due to the use of an incompatible cellular phone charger and charging cord. Damages are estimated at $250,000 in the unit of origin and $625,000 total. All occupants from six apartment units were displaced and are working with the Red Cross to receive assistance or staying with friends and family. There were no reported occupant injuries. One firefighter reported minor injuries.
At the September 6, 2022, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Business Meeting, Fire Chief Keith Johnson highlighted fires involving lithium batteries and battery charging in general. As of September 6, 2022, Loudoun County was up to $11.8 million in loss due to lithium battery related fires since May 2021. Lithium batteries are used in many devices including laptops, cell phones, electric bikes, electric scooters, remote controlled cars, drones, hoverboards and e-cigarettes. During the meeting Chief Johnson stated, “Often people will plug their e-bike, their e-scooter, their hoverboard, whatever device they are using . . . into the charging system of their home. They plug it in and forget about it. They leave it on the workbench, they leave it in the garage, they charge it in the bedroom of the home. You absolutely can’t do that; you have to monitor the battery.”
LCFR advises everyone to follow these safety tips to protect their loved ones and prevent a Lithium battery fire:
- Ensure all cords and wires are not damaged, worn, discolored, or frayed
- Only use the battery, charging cable and wall charger that came with the device or a manufacturer approved replacement
- Only connect cables into wall chargers that have been approved by the manufacturer of the wall charger
- Do NOT charge a device or battery under your pillow, on your bed, on a couch or near flammable materials
- Always monitor the device and batteries while charging, if you need to leave the home while charging make sure you unplug any devices or batteries
- Stop using or charging the battery immediately, if you notice:
- An odor
- The battery or charging system changes color
- Too much heat from the battery or charging system when in use or charging
- The battery changes shape
- The battery is leaking
- Odd noises are coming from the battery
For additional fire prevention and life safety information, please visit Loudoun.gov/FirePrevention or call our Public Education Manager Lisa Braun at 571-258-3222.