Cell phone battery explosion blamed for house fire
Smoke, fire damages Carol Macklin home northeast of Imperial
By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
When Carol Macklin walked into her rural home at 34152 738 Road, northeast of Imperial, Wednesday afternoon March 26, she smelled smoke.
She immediately called 911 to report a suspected fire.
When the Imperial firemen arrived at the home, the fire appeared to be out but the house was full of smoke, according to Doug Mitchell, 1st assistant chief for the Imperial Volunteer Fire Department.
Mitchell said the fire started in a bedroom of the home but the door to the room was closed and the fire apparently burned itself out due to lack of oxygen.
He said fire damage was limited to that room. He said they removed a mattress along with other smaller items.
Even though the fire was limited to the bedroom, the house sustained heavy smoke damage and caused the death of Macklin’s three dogs in the home at the time.
“That’s been the worst part,” Macklin said Wednesday, noting the pets were like members of the family.
Mitchell said the dogs perished due to either too much carbon dioxide or smoke in the air, or from lack of oxygen. Macklin lives in the home with her two sons, Boone and Shane Huff, and Shane’s girl- friend, Jenn Beckman.
She said it will be another three weeks or so before they can get back into the home. She said the bedroom had to gutted and the smoke damage will also have to be mitigated.
In the meantime, she said they are staying at the Imperial Inn.
Cell phone battery exploded
Because of the unique pattern of fire in the room, Mitchell called in Fire Marshal Ryan Silvester of Ogallala to investigate the cause of the fire.
Mitchell said the investigation showed the fire started after the battery of an older cell phone exploded while on a charger in the bedroom. He said the battery blew out of the cell phone when it exploded.
Since the door to the bedroom was closed, the fire couldn’t get oxygen and appeared to have burned itself out before Macklin had come home from work that afternoon.
Mitchell speculated the damage would have been much worse had the bedroom door been open.