Once again we have a LiPo battery charging horror story that did result in a fire and very nearly a significant one.

It all started when the blue and silver charger near the centre of the picture was being used to charge the Turnigy Orange TX directly in front of the charger. OK, I hear you saying “what Orange TX?” Well, it’s that rectangular mess that is actually just the PCB and a few miscellaneous components that weren’t completely annihilated by the fire.

Further towards the front of the bench and to the right we have a few more lipos that were either pre, post or actually on charge. They were also destroyed and of course added fuel/heat to the fire.

The circular item near the front left is the remains of a Lander EDF unit. Only the aluminium part remains, all the plastic bits melted/burned away.

Near the top right a blue upright aerosol type can is visible. This is a can of gas for a blow torch. Shelving units immediately to the left (not in the above picture) also house a can of blow torch gas. Add to that a garage full of foam models, various glues, solvents and paint products and it’s a wonder he didn’t end up with a Fukushima style accident.

Fortunately, the fire did burn itself out. The MDF worktop seems to have inhibited rather than added fuel to the fire. There must have been some serious heat so I was impressed that it didn’t burn.
Directly above the charging Orange TX was a brand new Spektrum DX 9. This suffered some heat damage (partially melted handle) and a fair amount of smoke damage but is still quite usable.

Pete is unsure of exactly what transpired but he’s guessing that the Orange TX batteries may have been very low before they went on charge (having been using them quite a bit that day). It was an old battery and it is possible that the TX was left switched on before charging commenced.

As with my own fire/explosion experience a few months back, this event reinforces the fact that LiPos really don’t like being discharged below a certain threshold and get angry if they are.

The insurance company inspected the damage and did pay a reasonable sum to compensate for the damage to the garage and the model gear within.

Builders were organised and work commenced on a new garage interior. As it happens the builders didn’t seem to be qualified to deal with anything more complex than a hammer. They actually managed to add to the damage by smashing a glass door panel. After some bungled plasterboard work, Pete decided to do the repairs himself. The insurance ended up paying a little extra for that.

All the garage work has now been completed and includes a new, more fire resistant charging area. The opportunity for a Spring Clean wasn’t missed too, so a lot of rubbish went off to the landfill.

Pete has added new Orange and Spektrum DX8 TXs to his fleet.

Pete said that his main lesson learned was to not leave LiPos unattended during charge. We’ve all done it but it’s a bad habit that the manufacturers themselves advise against.