HFD: Lithium batteries, like those in electric cars and cell phones, blamed in dozens of Oahu fires
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - More than a third of Oahu’s accidental fires between 2020 and 2022 involved lithium ion batteries, the Honolulu Fire Department said Wednesday.
Of the 167 accidental fires on Oahu during that period, the HFD said 58 involved these types of batteries.
However, none of these fires involved fatalities, fire officials said.
“Luckily, there have only been minor injuries because of lithium ion batteries,” said HFD fire investigator Kamehalani Ortiz.
“And we want to keep it at zero.”
Lithium ion batteries are used for a host of electronic products such as cell phones, laptop computers, cordless drills, electric scooters, and even electric cars.
The batteries are generally safe but when misused, damaged or stored incorrectly, they can spark a blaze.
“If they become damaged, overcharged or overheated, then chemical reactions can occur within the cells resulting in a self heating state known as thermal run away,” said HFD Battalion Chief Blake Takahashi.
These fires cause millions of dollars in damages. But during a news conference Wednesday, HFD officials outlined some of the preventative measures consumers can take.
“If you’re going to charge a cell phone, please don’t charge it on the bed or near any combustibles,” said HFD Capt. Ricardo Yost.
“When purchasing devices, make sure that it has an underwriters’ laboratory mark which shows that the product has been safely tested.”
Added HFD Capt. Jonathan Darr: “For large items like power tools ... I charge them on my my lanai outside but not in the direct sunligh.”
“I do it when I’m home. I don’t leave things charging overnight.”
Fire officials added that old and damaged batteries should not be thrown away in the garbage.
Instead, reach out to the city Department of Environmental Service’s Recycling Branch at 808-768-3201.
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