Fire officials are warning residents to be careful charging their devices after a cellphone ignited a bed and pillow in Hamden, Connecticut, overnight Friday, according to the fire department.
"I saw the flames," said Hamden resident Kimberly Johnson, who said the fire broke out in her 15-year-old son's bedroom. "When I ran upstairs, his entire left side of the bed was on fire."
Residents at 204 Franklin Road in Hamden ventilated the home and the fire was extinguished before emergency crews arrived around 4 a.m., but fire officials say it's a warning to residents about the dangers of charging electronics.
"I was just scared because all I saw was the flames and my son was laying there," Johnson said.
Chargers "need space to breathe" because they generate heat while in use, according to the Hamden Fire Department.
"The cell phone was left on the bed. These devices need areas to be ventilated," said Hamden Fire Chief David Berardesca. "It is recommended that you leave these type of devices on a hard surface so the heat can dissipate. The batteries heat up, they could melt – in some cases, explode – and cause a fire."
Never block the air vents on the back and sides of a laptop or leave charging devices on a bed while sleeping. Bedding and pillows can block airflow, fire officials said.
Check power cords and chargeres regularly for damage, and throw them out if they're frayed. Damaged cords can emit electrical sparks and ignite a fire.
Always unplug chargers that are not in use. They consume electricity even when the device is not charging.
More information is available through the Hamden Fire Marshal’s Office at 203-407-3182.