The danger of a 9-volt battery catching fire by rubbing against other metal objects in a “junk drawer” is rare but real, according to Danvers Acting Fire Chief Jim McPherson.
The danger first emerged earlier this summer when a fire in a southern New Hampshire home was attributed to a 9-volt battery rubbing against another battery and igniting a fire, according to a report in Amherst Patch. The fire produced smoke throughout the first floor of the home.
McPherson said there has been no fires caused by those circumstances in Danvers and other Danvers Fire Department officers had not heard of one in the area.
“I do understand how this could be a hazard under the right circumstances,” he said, adding he would pass on the word about the danger.
Following the fire, the state Fire Marshall’s office in New Hampshire issued an alert, warning residents about the danger.
“A 9 volt battery is a fire hazard because the positive and negative posts are on top, right next to one another,” the alert stated. “If the ends come in contact with anything metal i.e. aluminum foil, steel wool, paper clip, other batteries, etc. this will create the object to heat up and ignite a fire.”
The drawer where the fire started had actually just been cleaned, the homeowner told fire investigators, and several loose batteries had been put together in a baggie. Also in the drawer were spare keys, a cigarette lighter, paper clips and eyeglass cleaner.
The Fire Marshall recommended that 9-volt batteries be kept in the original packaging or the ends be covered. When the batteries are thrown out, residents should make sure that the positive and negative posts are wrapped in electrical tape.