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Fire that started in bedroom causes $400K damage to Maui house

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A fire that may have been started by a lithium-ion battery in a charging device on a bed caused about $400,000 damage to a Waiehu house Sunday night.

Firefighters arrived at the Alakai Street house at 10:27 p.m. to find a fire with flames coming from windows on the left side of the home. Crews had the fire contained about 10:47 p.m. and extinguished at 1:24 a.m. Monday. Damages were $300,000 to the structure and $100,000 to contents.

The residents were at home and detected a smoke odor somewhere, said Edward Taomoto, fire services chief, and when they opened a bedroom door, they found the bed on fire and evacuated the home. They got out safely and no injuries were reported.

An occupant reported that 30 minutes prior, they began charging a lithium-ion battery in a USB charging device that was plugged into an electrical outlet. The charging device and battery was left on the bed, Taomoto said.

Fire investigators say that the fire started in the bedroom but were unable to determine the exact cause, Taomoto said.

Three adults and three children who live in the home have been displaced. The Red Cross is assisting the families.

The Fire Department says that if a fire is discovered in a room of the home, occupants should quickly shut the door to the room before exiting the structure. By closing the door, they effectively contain the fire to the room of origin and restrict the spread of heat, smoke and flames from the rest of the home. In this incident, the door to the bedroom was left open, which allowed the fire to spread down the hall and to other areas of the home, firefighters said.