Chandler woman warning others after drone battery explosion

CHANDLER, AZ - A Chandler family is lucky they weren’t hurt when one of their Christmas gifts exploded. However, their home is now covered in soot.

"I opened the door and just smoke poured out. Of course I freaked out because my dog was inside,” Ashley Wagonner said.

Wagonner said her and her husband returned home to find smoke and soot after one of their Christmas presents exploded while charging.

"I immediately saw the battery here. He (her husband) moved the table, and glass went everywhere,” she said.

It was a Vivitar DRC-333 drone purchased at Walmart. It uses a lithium polymer battery.

Over at the Viper Hobbies store in Mesa, they make sure to tell customers how to safely charge and store these kinds of batteries.

"Since the new technology and the new batteries are coming out, they can be a little bit more unstable,” said Austin Thomas, an employee at Viper Hobbies.

He recommends people use only the charger that comes with the product; use a fire proof bag or ammo box to charge lithium polymer batteries; keep the charging battery away from flammable surfaces and objects; and don't leave the battery charging unattended.

Other warning signs--watch out for include too much heat coming from the charger, an odor, leaking or a change in color.

The National Fire Protection Agency advises keeping batteries at room temperature and away from extreme temperatures, avoid charging devices under your pillow, on your bed or couch.

"I mean, it's a charger,” Waggoner said.

That's a lot of trouble for just a battery, not something many people would think about.

"My whole house could've been on fire, my dog dead — I can't even imagine,” Wagonner said.

Now, she wants to warn others to ask questions, follow instruction manuals and take every precaution.

Vivitar Director of Marketing Melissa Hoisoin said in a prepared statement:

“Consumer satisfaction and safety are our top priority, and we take all concerns seriously. We believe this to be an isolated incident, but need to speak directly to the consumer in order to investigate further. As always, we urge them to contact us directly at 1-800-637-1090 so our Customer Care Team can review and offer a prompt, thorough response.”

Wagonner said she has filled out a complaint on the company’s support page website.

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