Grand Forks family warns of battery dangers after fire destroys garage

It's a fire danger that many people don't realize. It's one a Grand Forks family found out the hard way. They lost their garage, and everything inside.

Grand Forks family warns of battery dangers after fire destroys garage
According to the Grand Forks Fire Department, the garage fire began when a lithium-ion battery caught fire. Matt Henson / WDAY.

GRAND FORKS — A Grand Forks family put out the warning on social media after learning the lesson the hard way. It only takes a second for lithium-ion batteries to start a fire.

"Relatively rare but it does happen," said Grand Forks Fire Marshal Matt Hageman.

On Tuesday morning, June 9, their garage was gutted by fire after a cordless battery and charger caught fire that then spread to nearby combustible materials.

Two cars, a golf cart and an ATV all went up in flames. The home was spared for the most part. However, it was used for an in-home day care. The five children that were there at the time of the fire were able to run to safety.


"It was a cordless battery that could be used in multiple different settings; drills, weed whipper, so it was a multi-purpose battery," explained Hageman, who investigated the fire.

While useful around the home, they are also a hazard if they overheat.

"A lot of energy in those little batteries, so if they fail they can create an explosion or start a fire," Hageman said.

On average in Grand Forks, one fire a year is blamed on lithium-ion batteries and their chargers.

"I would give them several feet each direction. Don't have anything stored next to them while you are charging the batteries," Hageman said.

It should be noted these batteries are commonly found in everyday items like cellphones, laptops and even vaping devices.

"General practice is once it's fully charged, unplug it because it can't be charged anymore, you can actually degrade the life of it," explained Hageman.


It's also recommended you check the battery and the charger periodically.

"If the battery is deformed, or is acid leaking or is it getting hot," Hageman recommended you replace it immediately.

Firefighters also recommend knowing the lifespan of the battery and charger set by the manufacture, as they should be recycled with a battery dealer immediately.

Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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