Homeowner blames charging cellphone for fire, urges caution with lithium-ion batteries

Lithium-Ion Battery Concerns

The day's local, regional and national news, detailed events and late-breaking stories are presented by the ABC 6 News Team, along with the latest sports, weather updates including the extended forecast.

(KSTP) – In an effort to try and save other families from losing their homes, a Minnesota family has a warning nearly everyone can relate to.

That message is when you charge your phone, try not to do it overnight.

“I know my son plugged his cell phone in to charge right before he went to sleep,” Michelle Pilz, of Scandia, said about the morning their home was destroyed by a fire.

“I believe it was the phone that started that fire, and I still do,” Pilz added.

It happened in 2021, and according to the State Fire Marshal report, the fire started on a three-season porch, where Pilz says her son was sleeping.

While investigators say the cause of the fire is “undetermined,” Pilz is confident that it was her son’s cell phone.

The home was burned down at a time when fires linked to lithium-ion batteries are increasing across the globe. According to UL Solutions, there were 402 fires in 2016… which increased to more than 2,100 in 2022.

Just last week, the Woodbury Fire Department warned people about a trend of lithium-ion battery fire calls they’ve responded to — in the last few months, there have been at least five.

RELATED: Several fire calls due to lithium batteries, department issues warning

WFD also shared the following safety tips to their followers on social media:

  • Purchase batteries that are listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. This will be listed on the battery label.
  • Stop charging a battery once it is full.
  • Charge devices on a hard surface like a desk, table or counter.
  • Only use the battery designed for the device and ensure the battery is placed in the device correctly.
  • Only use charging equipment that is compatible with your device. As an extra precaution, use only the charging equipment that was supplied with the device.
  • Stop using the device if the battery shows signs of damage, such as an unusual odor, excessive heat, popping sounds, swelling or a change of color.

For Pilz, she said all her family members, including pets, made it out safe that devastating morning.

“If you have the ability to keep in the back of your mind that these things could go haywire, and if you’re going to charge your phone, which everybody has to do every single day, try to do it when you’re awake,” Pilz said.