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Battery-Fire (Cargo Plane) Crashes Seen Every Other Year

Batteries used in mobile phones and laptop computers, which can spontaneously combust, will destroy an average of one U.S.-registered cargo jet every other year, a government analysis has concluded.

Shipments of lithium batteries have been suspected of contributing to two U.S. cargo-jet accidents since 2006. They aren’t treated as hazardous, and the U.S. Congress is debating whether to exempt them from stricter rules. Projected growth in battery production increases the odds of fires, the study by U.S., Canadian and U.K. researchers found.

“It’s like a fireworks display,” Jerry Back, senior fire protection engineer at Hughes Associates Inc. in Baltimore, said about burning batteries in an interview. The firm conducts fire research for government and private clients.

“They explode,” Back said. “They shoot fireballs. They emit smoke. Sometimes they spray flaming liquid.”


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