Warning over e-cig batteries after high-rise flat fire

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West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) is highlighting the dangers of storing rechargeable batteries alongside metal items after a fire in a high-rise flat in Wakefield.

A man was taken to hospital for a precautionary check-up after a fire in a high-rise flat in Thornbury Road in the early hours of May 6.

The man managed to escape from the flat after the fire started at around 2.20am.

Fire engines from Wakefield, Ossett and Dewsbury attended as well as the aerial ladder platform from Leeds Fire Station.

Fire Investigator Ian Firth said: “This fire had the potential to be serious as it was on an elevated floor of a high-rise building.

“Fortunately the occupier was alerted by a smoke alarm and firefighters were able to put the blaze out before it became established.”

The fire caused damage to one of the bedrooms and significant smoke damage to the rest of the flat.

Following the fire, the debris was examined, in which there was found to be an e-cigarette charging device and numerous e-cigarette batteries. One of the batteries was stored along with metal items which fire investigators believe came into contact causing a short which started the fire.

Mr Firth added: “This fire simply comes down to the way in which the batteries were being stored. It’s quite likely that not many people are aware this can happen.

“If the terminals of a rechargeable lithiumion battery short together after coming into contact with metal, albeit even a coin or a keyring, the battery can heat up and cause ignition of surrounding combustible items.”

Purpose made storage cases are available; these will ensure batteries don’t come into contact with other metal items or suffer any physical damage.

There was no fault on the e-cigarette or batteries themselves.