Jesse Hampshire assesses the damage following a fire early Monday that destroyed his garage and its contents at 8 Helen St. in Winslow. Hampshire says he believes lithium-ion batteries, used to power tools and stored in the front corner of the garage, ignited the fire. Hampshire used a hose to douse the corner of his house, keeping it cool before the Winslow Fire Department arrived to extinguish the blaze. Hampshire, his wife and daughters, ages 4 and 7, who were home at the time of the fire, were not injured. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

WINSLOW — The fire that quickly enveloped and destroyed a Winslow garage early Monday was accidental, caused by lithium-ion batteries, officials said.

Deputy Chief Mike Murphy of the Winslow Fire Department said several lithium-ion batteries used for power tools overheated after being left charging for too long, igniting the blaze that quickly consumed a detached garage at 8 Helen St. just after midnight.

The “cheap knockoff batteries” were of the kind that can be bought cheaply online, Murphy said.

“Those are pretty dangerous, with the (temperature) being in the 90s and them charging in a hot garage,” he said.

The family of four living at the house, including two children, escaped uninjured, Murphy said, and damage to the home was minimal. The garage, however, was “a total loss.”

Firefighters had the fire well under control in 10 minutes, Murphy said, and the blaze was extinguished by 12:21 a.m. Monday. Crews from Winslow, Waterville and Clinton responded to the call.


Lithium-ion batteries were deemed the cause of a fire in Chelsea in late May that destroyed a building used to manufacture modular homes. Another fire in Chelsea that destroyed a car, camper and garage was also sparked by lithium-ion batteries.

No one was injured in either fire.

Jesse Hampshire stands outside his house Monday at 8 Helen St. in Winslow, where an early morning fire Monday destroyed the garage. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Murphy urged the public to be cautious and conscious of how long they charge batteries, especially as temperatures rise in the summer.

“Don’t buy knockoff lithium-ion batteries, and don’t leave them in the charger too long,” he said. “Nobody was hurt. It was a quick knockdown. Just be careful where you buy your lithium-ion batteries from.”

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