Laptop probable cause of Aspen Meadows Apartment Fire

(Jackson, Wyo.) - Investigators have determined the April 26, 2016, Aspen Meadows Apartments fire was an accident, according to Fire Marshal Kathy Clay. The fire began at approximately 1:30 p.m. on the inside of an apartment and produced visible exterior flames. The exterior fire was wind-driven, with gusts recorded as high as 16 miles per hour in the early minutes of the event. “Our crews did an excellent job of making a fast attack on the deck fire,” noted Incident Commander Chief Mike Moyer. “Once inside, despite heavy smoke conditions, crews were able to extinguish the remaining fire quickly.” All occupants of the affected and surrounding apartments were evacuated safely. Smoke and water damage added to the complete destruction of a bedroom within Unit 91 and some fire damage to a bedroom in Unit 90. Work is underway to restore the spaces for occupants to return. No other buildings in the complex were impacted. Clay reported that a laptop computer was the most probable cause of Tuesday’s fire. An apartment occupant, having returned the night prior from an out of town trip, plugged a laptop in to recharge, and reported having clothes and bedcovers over the laptop. “Lithium ion batteries can easily overheat when they are charging and insulated by bedding, pillows, clothes, or other insulating-type items,” Clay said. “Once these batteries get hot enough, a thermal runaway can occur within minutes, flaming gases begin to vent from the battery, high heat is transferred to the next cell, and a chain reaction of cell disintegration and fire takes place.” Clay advised laptop owners to keep lithium ion batteries charging in an open space with plenty of air movement to allow for safe recharging. Emergency officials also thanked the many individuals and organizations who have offered donations on behalf of people impacted by the fire. Based on assessments by the American Red Cross of Wyoming and the Community Resource Center, a public request for donations is not needed at this time, according to Teton County Emergency Management. However, that may change if the need for more permanent housing arises. If someone was impacted by the fire and needs assistance, no matter how long after the event, they may contact the Community Resource Center at (307) 739-4500. #buckrail #news