Preventing a fire when charging your laptop -

Laptop charger catches fire

Many of us are guilty of leaving a cell phone or a laptop sitting out to charge on a bed or sofa. 

"Our whole second story is covered in black soot," said Stephen Vorwerk. "We have no clothes, no mattress, no pillows, no bed sheets, nothing. It's all gone just from leaving a computer plugged in and charging."

Around 2 a.m. Sunday, Vorwerk's house that he rents with his brother and a few other roommates caught fire.

He said the fire started because his brother left his laptop charging on his bed overnight. He said no one was home when the fire started in the house.

He said the smoke spread across the hall to his bedroom and destroyed $3,000 in computer equipment. It also destroyed some of his brother's military awards. Now, he wants to warn others not to make that mistake.

"If you leave something plugged in and charging, don't put it on anything that's flammable. Put it on a flat, wooden surface that's not going to heat up and start a fire," he said.

Wilmington's Assistant Fire Chief Frank Blackley said there are many things people can do to prevent a fire from ruining their plans. He said to not overload an extension cord with too many things and don't run the cords under rugs because they can heat up. Similarly, Blackley said not to plug too many things into one power strip.

"If you need another power strip plug it into an outlet," explained Blackley. "Don't put them in a chain where you've got one going into another."

Also, if your phone or laptop is fully charged, Blackley says to turn it off and unplug it from the wall. And if you're cooking, be sure to stay in the kitchen to make sure things don't catch on fire.

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