'A real life nightmare:' Victim, Long Island fire officials warn of risks of lithium-ion batteries
Long Island fire officials are urging residents to take extra safety precautions when using lithium-ion batteries in the wake of multiple fires, including one that was fatal.
Thomas Turrisi, of Rockville Centre, says he had a lithium-ion battery charging in his living room in January when it suddenly burst into flames.
“It was a real-life nightmare,” he says. “In less than a minute, there was a significant amount of fire and black smoke throughout the whole first floor.”
Turrisi was not hurt in the incident, but Nassau County Fire Marshal Michael Uttaro says there have been more cases like this on Long Island in recent months.
“They're becoming more popular, and that's why you're seeing this uptick in incidents,” Uttaro says.
He says a charging e-scooter powered by lithium-ion batteries was the cause of a fire that killed a woman in a Hempstead home on Sept. 26.
Then on Nov. 8, fire investigators say a skateboard with a homemade lithium-ion battery pack caught fire inside a bedroom at a Long Beach home.
Uttaro says it's challenging to fight these fires since the batteries burn at 1,200 degrees and thousands of gallons of water are needed. They can also quickly reignite if they're not put into special drums.
There are different types of lithium-ion batteries for different electronics, including for laptops, power tools and vacuums.
Fire officials say if you buy an "off-market charging kit" for these batteries, you could increase your chances of a fire.
Turrisi says he bought a kit on Amazon that is cheaper and not made specifically for the device he was charging. He says he'll never make this mistake again and hopes he can spread his message to other Long Islanders.
“Don't leave anything charging overnight, don't buy cheap products from Amazon, and protect your family,” Turrisi says.