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Fire destroys shed next to East Village home

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Posted at 7:16 AM, Jun 08, 2023

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – A shed containing e-bike batteries caught fire next to an East Village home early Thursday morning, prompting a heavy firefighter response and closure of a nearby freeway ramp.

Just before 4:45 a.m., San Diego Fire-Rescue Department crews were dispatched to the 1600 block of F Street, near 16th Street, due to a fire burning a small structure being used for storage.

Seven people from inside a two-story home next to the structure – described as a 40-foot metal container -- were forced to evacuate.

It took firefighters about 15 minutes to knock down the blaze, but the response and smoke from the fire forced the closure of the westbound state Route 94 offramp to F Street.

As of 10 a.m., F Street between 16th and 17th streets was closed to traffic.

SDFD officials said an investigation determined lithium ion batteries, used for e-bikes, ignited reasons and sparked the fire.

Officials stated: “There are scooters and e-bikes inside the container in addition to more than 30 lithium ion batteries. The renter at a residence on F Street was storing these items inside the metal container. There was also ammunition stored inside this container which caused a few explosions. No one was hurt.”

A hazardous materials team was called to the scene to test air quality for toxicity and safely remove the batteries.

Per SDFD officials: “HAZMAT teams use ten gallons of salt inside a 55 gallon drum to render the batteries inert. However, in a process referred to as thermal runaway, the batteries heat up very quickly and water is used to cool the batteries. SDFD has requested environmental cleanup organizations to respond to remove the batteries that are ready for safe disposal.”

Residents of a nearby apartment complex were told to shelter in place during the cleanup effort.