DENVER (KDVR) — Eric Evans walked through what’s left of his home after it was destroyed by a raging fire on Feb. 8. It was caused by a lithium battery inside a small toy car that was not being charged at the time.
A family member noticed the smoke and alerted Evans, who got his family out of the home just in time.
“It makes me sick to my stomach,” Evans said. “There was an explosion and it back-drafted into the house.”
He said the fire consumed the 4,300-square-foot home within 15 minutes.
Two fires caused by lithium batteries occurred on Friday in New York City, bringing the death toll from lithium batteries to 14 this year alone.
Lithium batteries are used in toys, scooters, e-bikes and other equipment. Lt. Sean Stull of the Golden Fire Department told the Problem Solvers that batteries can quietly ignite.
“We’ll see what we call an off-gassing where we see a little bit of smoking with the battery,” said Stull.
Stull advises anyone using the batteries to inspect them regularly for cracks or bulging and store them in a cool, dry environment.
Those concerned about theft often store their e-bikes inside their homes. West Metro Fire Protection District warns that e-bikes can present a risk if not properly monitored.
“Make sure when you’re charging it at home, you can know if there is a problem, you can hear and see it at that time,” Aaron Johnson of the West Metro Fire Protection District said. “Don’t charge them by exits so if there is a fire you’re able to get out.”
Evans is rebuilding his home, now surrounded by a gate adorned with flowers and encouraging signs from neighbors.
“So much generosity and kindness,” Evans said.
While Evans said he is grateful that no one was injured in the fire, he worries that others may not be informed about the dangers of lithium batteries. He came forward to help educate those in the community about the risks.
“Be vigilant about them, they’re going to be part of our everyday life” said Evans.
Stull told FOX31 that if you notice smoke coming from a battery you should leave the premises and call the fire department immediately.
For more information about how to properly dispose of lithium batteries, visit the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment webpage.
Although lithium batteries are safer than they were 10 years ago, it is important to use them responsibly. West Metro Fire Protection District said buyers should verify that batteries are UL tested and listed, always use the charger that goes with the battery you purchased and make sure replacement batteries come from the manufacturer.