JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA — A gigantic battery caught fire and burned for nine hours inside an industrial warehouse on Tuesday in Jacksonville.
The fire began around 7 am inside a Cecil Commerce Center warehouse that produces industrial-size batteries, according to News4Jax. The lithium iron phosphate battery weighed 20,000 pounds and measured five feet wide, five feet long and two feet high.
“This is a big battery,” Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department (JFRD) Chief Keith Powers told reporters at a briefing. “It puts off some pretty dangerous gas.”
The Saft America facility was evacuated due to the hazardous fumes released by the battery, including hydrogen fluoride – a highly explosive gas.
Close to 100 firefighters responded to the scene, Action News Jax reports. Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) teams were also on site monitoring the air quality.
The battery could not be extinguished due to the nature of the burn, known as a “thermal runway.”
″They are small cells packed together real tight so what happens is once you get thermal runway with one battery, then it impacts all the other ones and compromises them,” a JFRD official said. “Initial crews tended to attack that battery fire with dry chemical and Lith-Ex fire extinguishers. They were not successful.”
Using water to put out the fire was not a safe option, as the vapor can increase the spread of harmful chemicals into the air.
Instead, fire officials opted to contain the fire and let it burn out for hours. The fire was eventually put out around 5 pm.