Experts warn of overlooked fire danger

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MANASSAS, Va.- House fires cost Americans billions of dollars every year so many people take precautions to make sure a fire doesn’t destroy their homes.

However, experts say many people overlook a big cause for concern.

Laptops are convenient because you take them anywhere but leaving them on your bed or sofa can be dangerous.

Frank Teevan, fire marshal for the City of Manassas, says an overheated laptop battery is to blame for a fire that burned part of a two-story condo down to the frame.

Teevan said, “It was running for 16 to 18 hours.”

It was using a recalled battery and was left running on a bed.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said between 2005 and 2010, multiple manufacturers recalled a million laptop batteries.

Teevan said, “Unfortunately, in this case the owner didn’t know that she had a recalled battery. She put it on her bed on top of a comforter on her mattress the night before she fell asleep. She left that morning to go to work and, ah, left the laptop running, plugged in on her bed.”

Laptops left on soft bedding are dangerous, regardless of whether they are running on a recalled battery.

Computer technicians warn that laptops get hot and need to take in air on the bottom or side of the device to keep them cool.

They are designed to be used on a hard surface so air can cool the machine, blocking the vents or fans can cause the computer to overheat.

Teevan said, “It got so hot it ignited the blankets and the comforter on the bed and just went from there.”

The fire left three people homeless and cost $40,000 in damage.

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