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Cause of Pullman townhouse fire attributed to lithium battery charger

Pullman Fire Marshal Chris Wehrung estimated that damages to be around $500,000.

PULLMAN, Wash. — Pullman fire investigators have uncovered the cause of the fire that burned down a two-story townhouse on 1232 Lost Trail Dr. in Pullman. 

According to a press release from the Pullman Fire Department (PFD), Pullman Fire Marshal Chris Wehrung reported that a lithium battery charger was responsible for the fire that destroyed the townhouse. Wehrung estimated the damages to be around $500,000.

Pullman police responded to the fire on Thursday morning. An officer reported that there was exploding ammunition coming from the basement garage. Though grazed by a bullet, the officer was treated and did not require any further medical attention.

Townhouse residents told firefighters that they were alerted of the fire by their smoke detectors shortly before 7 a.m. After immediately evacuating, they called 911. A neighbor also told fire investigators that he heard popping sounds before discovering the fire outside his window.

The first firefighters on the scene reported that the fire most likely started in the basement before moving up to the first and second floors. Most of the damage was visible on the backside of the building that borders Selway Lane.

It was also reported that firefighters from both Pullman and Whitman County District 12 were able to keep the flames from breaking through a fire wall between homes and damaging the interior of the adjoining structure. While some minor damage was reported, including some interior smoke and melted exterior vinyl, no major damage was found.

The same could not be said for the townhouse. From the backside of the home, both cars were destroyed, along with the interior of the building on the first and second floors.

The only death to report was a cat, who was found as firefighters were putting out hotspots in the house. Another cat was rescued and sent to the WSU Veterinary Hospital for further treatment.

While occupants of the adjacent home were allowed to return inside after an inspector determined it was safe, the residents of the townhouse are now being aided by the American Red Cross to find temporary housing.

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