- Department of Fire Services
Media Contact for Lithium-Ion Batteries Likely Cause of 4-Alarm Medford Fire
MEDFORD — Sunday’s four-alarm fire in Medford likely started with battery-powered scooters in a first-floor laundry room, said Medford Fire Chief John E. Freedman, Medford Police Chief Jack D. Buckley, and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey.
“This fire broke out in a densely built residential neighborhood, and I want to thank the Medford firefighters and all our mutual aid partners who worked so hard to contain it,” said Chief Freedman. “Lithium-ion batteries contain a tremendous amount of power in a small package. When they burn, they burn extremely hot, release toxic gases, and can re-ignite even after the fire has been extinguished. It’s vitally important to use, store, and charge them safely according to the manufacturer’s instructions.”
The Medford Fire Department responded to the area of 43 Allston St. following multiple 9-1-1 calls at about 4:55 on Sunday afternoon. On arrival, firefighters observed heavy fire showing throughout the 2½-story, two-family home. Three occupants were able to escape, one of whom was transported from the scene for medical care. Firefighters battled the flames from all sides of the structure for about two and a half hours before bringing it under control.
The origin and cause of the fire were investigated by the Medford Fire Department, Medford Police Department, and State Police Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit assigned to the State Fire Marshal’s office. Investigators determined that the fire began in a first-floor laundry room, where two badly-damaged, battery-powered scooters were located. Investigators determine that the fire rapidly spread from that point, causing major damage to the structure and displacing all four residents. One nearby home sustained exterior heat damage.
“Lithium-ion batteries are growing in use, and they power everything from pocket-sized devices to motor vehicles,” said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey. “Choose items that are listed by a nationally recognized testing lab like Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Intertek (ETL). The lab’s mark is a sign that the device has been tested to meet certain safety requirements. It’s also important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use the manufacturer’s batteries and charging equipment rather than generic or aftermarket items.”
Fire officials also recommended the following safety guidelines:
- Store scooters and e-bikes outdoors if possible. If you must store them indoors, keep them and their batteries clear of doors, windows, and stairways.
- Charge the battery directly from a wall outlet, not an extension cord or power strip. Place it on a hard and stable surface, not a bed, couch, or pillow.
- Charge only one battery or device at a time and unplug it when it’s fully charged. Don’t allow a charged battery to continue charging.
- If you notice changes to the battery or the device, including damage, an unusual odor, a change in color, too much heat, change in shape, leaking, smoking, or not keeping a charge, stop using it and take it to a qualified professional for repair.
- If and when it’s time to dispose of the battery, don’t put it in the trash. Lithium-ion batteries should be recycled, and you can find a location to take them at https://www.call2recycle.org/locator/.