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Number of battery fires nearly doubled since 2022: Toronto Fire Services

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The number of lithium-ion battery fires in Toronto has nearly doubled this year, according to Toronto Fire Services (TFS).

These batteries can be found in smartphones, laptops, toys and e-bikes. In 2022, TFS said it had to deal with 29 batteries, but this year, that number has jumped to 51.

In some cases, it's unknown what caused the fires, but TFS Deputy Chief Larry Cocco told CTV News that these blazes occur when the batteries have been misused or overcharged.

"These batteries have a lot of energy in a small package, and when they fail, it goes into something called thermal runaway," said Cocco. "It's why we highly recommend not overcharging your device. Once it reaches capacity, unplug it and don't charge devices unattended."

Agnieszka Sajka of Toronto said her family had a terrible scare this past June. Her two children were riding in their battery-powered toy car when it started to smoke and burst into flames.

"Sometimes kids are playing far away from their parents, but thank goodness I was right there because I feel it could have been much worse," said Sajka.

Sajka called the fire department, and she said the fire was put out, and the car was destroyed. The company Sajka bought the vehicle from offered her compensation, but she said she would not buy another one.

"I'm never going to get a toy like this with a big battery in it ever again. You never realize that your children could be in such danger playing with toys and things could change so quick," said Sajka.

For Etobicoke's Mia Bediako, she said in March her Apple AirPods caught fire without warning and burned through her Gucci pursue, which was sitting on her bedroom nightstand.

"I was in my home, and I started to smell like a burning sensation. I looked at my nightstand, and it's all in flames," said Bediako. "I was terrified. I couldn't believe this was happening."

Bediako said Apple gave her a new set of AirPods and took the defective ones in for investigation. She is still seeking compensation for her burned designer purse.

According to TFS, to avoid battery fires, always follow the manufacturer's instructions, only use batteries designed for the device and charging cords that came with the product, store batteries away from flammable items and avoid excessive charging.

Batteries that are dropped, damaged or altered in any way should also not be used and when their life span is over, they should be disposed of as household hazardous waste and should not be thrown in the garbage or blue box. 

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