Westmoreland County home erupts into flames after batteries caught fire in trash

IRWIN, Pa. — It’s an item almost everyone has in their home. In remotes or electronics, you typically have to change the batteries once a year.

“The first and third Wednesday of every month at our facility, we have a vendor who accepts alkaline batteries for proper disposal,” said Mike Skapura with Westmoreland Cleanways & Recycling.

But what if you just want to throw them out at home? Skapura said there is a proper way to do it to avoid fires.

“We suggest when you take a battery and if it needs disposed, put tape on each end, whether it’s masking tape or painters’ tape. That way, these ends won’t come into contact with something that will spark,” Skapura said.

That’s what happened in Irwin, Westmoreland County. That nine-volt battery’s end came in contact with a piece of metal already in the trash, sparking a fire that quickly spread.

“Putting tape on the ends helps to minimize or eliminate the ability for a spark to happen inside a garbage container or inside the pressured garbage truck, because it’s happened that way too,” Skapura said.

If you aren’t getting rid of batteries, but rather storing new ones, Skapura said to make sure to store them with tape as well so they don’t spark each other.

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