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Firefighters discover battery fire at electric-truck business in Escondido after smelling toxic smoke


Firefighters who smelled an odd odor early Sunday hunted down a battery fire that was spewing toxic smoke in an electric-vehicle business in Escondido.

Crews returning to their station from another call smelled an odor around 1:45 a.m. and tracked down the fire, finding heavy smoke pouring from a commercial buiding on Auto Park Way near Citracado Parkway, said Escondido Battalion Chief Jeff Sargis.

Firefighters determined it was “cold smoke” and donned personal protective gear, including self-contained breathing apparatus, to protect themselves as they went into the building. Smoke filled the building from floor to ceiling as crews located a large lithium ion battery pack about the size of a small file cabinet that was on fire, Sargis said.

He said the smoldering fire produced “thick toxic smoke” which activated the smoke alarm but did not cause the sprinklers to go off. The business in the building, TransPower, is a transportation company that supplies electrical drive systems for trucks and buses.

More than 50 firefighters from Escondido, San Marcos, Rancho Santa Fe and Vista fire departments responded after a second alarm was called, although some of the additional firefighters were released. The fire was controlled in about 20 minutes.

“There didn’t appear to be much, if any, damage to the structure,” Sargis said. “It was really isolated to a battery pack.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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