Seminole County officials are sounding the alarm after a fire at a waste station likely sparked by rechargeable batteries caused nearly $500,000 in damage.
The fire started at the Central waste Transfer Station in Longwood around 11 p.m. Monday and destroyed four trailers used for hauling trash from the station to the landfill, knocking out about 10-percent of the county’s ability to haul waste on a daily basis.
Before they hauled away the twisted, charred trailers, county officials used them as a backdrop for an opportunity to discuss the dangers and proper disposal of rechargeable batteries.
“Right now, the most plausible culprit is rechargeable batteries such as lithium batteries, or perhaps a lead acid battery in one of the trailers,” Seminole County Fire Marshal Christina Diaz said.
Officials say they’ve recently seen an increase in these types of fires. Monday’s fire burned for three hours before anyone noticed it.
To prevent similar fires from happening, fire officials are asking people to be careful when disposing of lithium ion batteries. They say to never just throw them in the trash.
“You could put someone’s life at risk, even your own if you improperly use or dispose of such batteries,” Diaz said.
Diaz says it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for charging and storage, and never use a third-party device for charging.
Don’t change the device near any type of combustible material, and be sure to keep the battery at room temperature. It’s also important to avoid leaving it in a hot car or near a heat ignition source.
Diaz recommends taking lithium ion batteries and charges to the county’s household hazardous waste facility at the transfer station for free.