Exploding battery charger causes fire in Otumoetai home

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A person suffered minor injuries after a house fire on Bureta Rd, Otumoetai earlier this morning.

Tauranga fire brigade senior station officer Phillip Price said fire crews responded to the fire, which he believed to have started in the upstairs bedroom where a battery charger overheated and caught fire.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus made an entry into the smoke-logged bedroom and quickly dealt with the small fire.

"There was a lithium polymer battery being charged on the bed and it had exploded and set fire to the bed. Even neighbours said they had heard the bang," Mr Price said.

He said the occupants of the house had left for only five minutes and when they returned home they were able to get the mattress on the terrace and extinguish it with a garden hose.

It was while transferring the burning mattress outside that a person suffered minor burns and was treated on scene.

"There was no real damage to the house," he said, though they were ventilating the home.

Mr Price said lithium batteries were known to have a risk of fire and explosion. They were batteries commonly used for model airplanes or racing cars.

"It's not unheard of for them to start a fire, I've been to a couple myself, one almost burned a place down."

It was not always the person's fault either he said, but there were precautions people could take when charging the batteries.

"Our suggestion is to charge them on a hard surface, like a concrete floor, and keep them well clear of combustibles so if they do catch fire there's nothing around to ignite. Also it helps to have someone around, watching," he said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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