Smoldering trash fire at post office traced to battery

A discarded battery appeared to be the cause of a trash fire at the Columbus Post Office at 450 Jackson St., according to the Columbus Fire Department.

At about 8:46 AM, Columbus firefighters were dispatched to the post office on a report of a rubbish fire. Post office employees had discharged a dry chemical fire extinguisher into a canvas rubbish collection bag, which firefighters determined had extinguished the smoldering fire.

As firefighters examined the contents of the rubbish container, they located two 9-volt alkaline batteries and a 3-volt lithium battery. An inspection of one 9-volt battery showed signs of damage consistent with a short circuit.

Firefighters determined that at least one battery came in contact with other metal items or batteries and created a smoldering fire in the rubbish container. No one was injured and only the canvas bag was damaged.

The Columbus Fire Department said that while any battery can short circuit under the right conditions, 9-volt batteries can be particularly dangerous. If a metal object touches both posts, a short circuit can occur. CFD suggests keeping batteries in their original packaging until they are ready for use. If discarding alkaline batteries in the trash, cover battery posts with masking tape or electrical tape before discarding.