A battery unit used on Metropolitan Transit District buses caught fire due to an internal short caused by dripping water at a storage location.

Smoke coming from a battery storage area at the Metropolitan Transit District yard attracted employees’ attention Tuesday morning. Firefighters responded at around 9:30 a.m. to East Cota and Salsipuedes Street, and they found MTD personnel putting out the fire with chemical extinguishers and a Class D metal extinguisher. It took “considerable effort” by both parties and a couple more metal extinguisher loads before the battery fire was snuffed out. A small amount of water leaking through the roof and onto the battery terminals apparently caused an internal short that started the fire.

City Fire commended the MTD employees’ quick actions and familiarity with the battery materials in putting out the fire. Two were evaluated by paramedics at the scene for smoke and dry chemical powder exposure, and declined further treatment.

With the spate of cell phone battery fires and hoverboard fires, Captain Gary Pitney, City Fire public information officer said the public has been made more aware of lithium-ion batteries. They store a great deal of energy in a very small space and can discharge rapidly if short-circuited, causing fires. If you encounter such a fire, dousing the phone with water can safely cool it down.


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