NE Bend house fire traced to charging battery pack

Investigators: Lithium-ion pack likely overheated

BEND, Ore. - (Update: Fire apparently caused by overheated, charging lithium-ion battery pack)

A fire that heavily damaged a northeast Bend home on Sunday apparently was caused by an lithium-ion battery pack that overheated while plugged in to charge at an outlet in a child’s bedroom, investigators said Tuesday.

The smoky fire caused $210,000 in structural damage and content losses, but no one was home and there were no injuries.

Firefighters responded just before 5 p.m. to the reported fire in a home in the 63300 block of Northeast Brightwater Drive, east of 18th Street and north of Empire Avenue, Battalion Chief Dave Howe said.

While an initial report indicated it might have spread to a second home, the neighbor had only very minor damage from radiant heat, Howe said.

Crews arrived to find smoke billowing from the fire, which breached the attic space. However, crews had the fire controlled within 24 minutes of arrival, he said.

Howe said the fire appeared to have been smoldering for some time. Several neighbors called Deschutes County 911 dispatchers to report the fire, which caused an estimated $150,000 in damage to the home and $60,000 worth of contents. 

An investigation found the apparent cause in a child's bedroom, where a plugged-in lithium-ion battery pack most likely overheated, Deputy Fire Marshal Susie Maniscalco said Tuesday.

"Further investigation is being conducted to determine if the product had been tested and listed in a laboratory to meet specific requirements based on nationally recognized standards for safety," Maniscalco added.

A total of 17 firefighter personnel were called to the scene, including three engines and a ladder truck. Pacific Power and Cascade Natural Gas also were called in.

"There was significant damage to the structure and its contents, but the occupants carried renter's insurance, which will definitely make the loss easier to bear," Howe said in a news release.

"The Bend Fire Department urges renters to find and maintain a renter's insurance policy, because landlord's insurance typically does not cover the loss from fire of renters' possessions," he added.

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