Smoke From Burnt Battery Charging Packs Prompts Evacuation at Campus Dorm
Smoke coming from a campus dorm room was traced to a battery pack that ignited in a student’s backpack.
Firefighters were dispatched to 35 N. Park Street (Smith Hall) overnight for reports of smoke coming from a room on the fifth floor. Evacuation was in progress as fire crews arrived. UW Police directed Engine Co. 4 and Medic 4 to the room in question.
Firefighters noted a strong burnt plastic odor in the area, and smoke was present on the fifth floor. Engine 4 searched the dorm room with a thermal imaging camera and found indications of heat coming from inside a backpack. The crew found multiple battery charging packs and two computers inside the backpack. The charging packs had ignited, burned through the backpack, and burned a hole in the carpet. The fire was out prior to firefighters’ discovery of the backpack.
Ladder Co. 1 stayed with Engine 4 to ventilate the dorm room, and other fire crews on scene were made available for other emergency calls.
The occupants of the dorm room were displaced for the night so the room could air out. No injuries were reported.