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News / Clark County News

Charging batteries blamed for La Center shop fire

Damage and loss from blaze set at $250,000

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: April 26, 2022, 12:17pm

A fire that destroyed a shop building in La Center on Sunday was sparked by recharging lithium batteries from remote-control cars.

Clark County Deputy Fire Marshal Rick Searls said the batteries ignited within an hour of being placed on chargers in the outbuilding.

The shop building was a total loss, and Searls estimated the property and content loss to be $250,000.

The fire marshal warns people to keep an eye on lithium ion batteries while they’re charging because they’re susceptible to fires.

The homeowner became overwhelmed by the smoke while trying to retrieve a few items from the building, Max Konkright, Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue battalion chief, said in an email. They were treated at the scene. No other injuries were reported.

Shortly after 8:30 p.m., Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue crews were dispatched for a shop fire at 9000 N.E. 316th St., in a far corner of the agency’s service area. Initial reports stated that loud explosions were coming from the building.

There was a visible smoke column in the distance, Konkright said, and Clark County Fire District 10 and Clark County Fire District 3 were added to the alarm as additional units.

Crews from Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue arrived first to find a fully involved shop fire. They took a defensive position because it was unsafe to enter the building, Konkright said.

Firefighters encountered a few obstacles during their response, including a single-lane road. There was one fire hydrant about 1,000 feet from the driveway, Konkright said, and the driveway was about 900 feet from the burning building. Crews used Fire District 10 tenders to shuttle water while staging two more tenders from Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue near the area.

A total of five engines and four water tenders responded to the scene.