Fire Safety Starts at Home

Captain Tim Bouchelle of Seven Lakes Fire and Rescue. Maggie Beamguard/SLI

By Maggie Beamguard

Insider Editor

A garage fire in March on Pinecone Court in Seven Lakes North provides an opportunity to raise awareness about a rising risk to homeowners: lithium-ion batteries.

Seven Lakes Fire and Rescue was dispatched to the 100 block of Pinecone Court in Seven Lakes North just after 5 a.m. on March 14 along with Eagle Springs, Eastwood and Pinehurst Fire Departments. 

According to a statement on the Seven Lakes Fire and Rescue Facebook page, the first arriving firefighters reported smoke from the garage and attic area. The fire was contained to the garage, though the interior of the home received smoke damage. The occupants of the house were alerted to the fire when their smoke detectors activated and were able to exit the home safely with their pets. 

“Fortunately, the homeowner kept his garage door shut, so that isolated the fire,” said Captain Tim Bouchelle, who is responsible for public education and information. 

“We always advise people to sleep with their doors closed. It increases your time to get help whether you use a window as a secondary exit or you have to shelter in place.” 

Because the fire started to use up all the oxygen in the garage, it started to suffocate itself. “Fortunately it never reached the point where it could ignite the gasoline tank for the car which would cause an explosion and let in fresh oxygen,” he said. 

The suspected culprit of the March 14 conflagration was a lithium-ion battery in a lawn mower. These batteries are known to both ignite and explode. 

“What the Moore County Fire Marshal’s office determined was that it originated where the homeowner stated they had a battery operated push mower,” said Bouchelle. “But everything was completely burned up so it’s still undetermined that was the point of origin.”

A garage fire at the 100 block of Pinecone Court on March 14 is believed to be caused by a mower with a lithium-ion battery. Photo courtesy of Seven Lakes Fire and Rescue.

As they are increasingly found in everyday household items, lithium-ion fires have skyrocketed in recent years, contributing to both the loss of property and life. According to data from Underwriters Laboratories (UL) there were only 16 reported lithium-ion battery incidents in 390 incidents in 2023 including 256 injuries and a record high of 49 fatalities. 

They can be found in smartphones, laptops, portable chargers, digital cameras, electric vehicles, snowblowers, chainsaws, bikes, mowers and even smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

“What the research has shown is if the batteries are left plugged in when they’re past full, they can overheat and conduct a fire,” said Bouchelle. Additionally, aftermarket batteries that aren’t UL tested or that are incompatible with the chargers being used can cause them to overheat. Extreme heat or cold can also cause these batteries to malfunction.
Bouchelle advises not to charge devices and tools with this type of battery when no one is home and to remove them from the charger as soon as their full power has been reached. 

Additionally, he recommends only charging batteries that are approved to be used with the specific charger supplied for each device. “For instance, we have many manufacturers: Dewalt, Cobalt, Craftsman, etcetera. If you have a Craftsman battery, use a Craftsman charger and the same for all major brands,” Bouchelle said. 

Another safety precaution is to store lithium-ion battery powered tools in a neutral location in the garage or an out building where they are not exposed to either excessive heat or cold. 

As the summer months approach, Bouchelle had some additional fire safety tips and friendly reminders for the community. 

Controlled Burning

There is no yard debris burning in Seven Lakes. If you live outside the gates, make sure you get a fire permit and check to make sure there are no current burn bans at Always stay with the fire. Never leave it unattended. Set up a perimeter and have a source ready to extinguish it. The best day to burn is one with little to no wind and with rain expected overnight. 


Fireworks are illegal in North Carolina without proper permits and a license to shoot them. Sparklers, noise makers and smoke bombs are permitted, but Bouchelle advises handling them carefully and sensibly, and preferably not after overindulging in adult beverages. 

Laketime Fun

Bouchelle advises that folks who have been partaking in adult activities should refrain from getting in the water. Children should be supervised at all times by a competent person who will not become distracted. Since water levels are not deep near the docks and most have concrete pads under them, do not dive from docks.

Keeping an Eye Out

With kids out of school for the summers, Bouchelle welcomes keeping an extra eye out for young folks enjoying the outdoors. Drive slowly through the neighborhoods and be mindful of kids riding bicycles and going to the park. 

This summer, Seven Lakes Fire and Rescue is up for a new ISO rating, which impacts insurance rates for area homeowners. Their current rating is class five.

Bouchelle is grateful for the community’s support and they try to give back to the community. “We want to be more than just what somebody sees on their worst day,” he said, “so we try to do a lot in the community whether it’s putting out the flags yeah for 4th of July and Memorial Day, or the  9/11 walk or safety standbys for swim teams and fireworks.” 

Their next community appreciation night is planned for Sept. 6 and the Sand Band will make a return appearance. They also look forward to celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2026. 

“We couldn’t do it without the support of the community,” said Bouchelle. 

Contact Maggie Beamguard at