Rechargeable battery blamed for Treasure Island house fire

TREASURE ISLAND, Fla. - (WFLA) - A Treasure Island man is homeless almost two years after a battery for a cordless drill erupted in flames and burned down his house.

May 31, 2016.

That's when a neighbor came screaming for the owner of the house to get out.

Thick, black smoke and fire prevented homeowner John Stambaugh from running from his upstairs bedroom to safety.

A rookie firefighter rescued Stambaugh and his dog, Molly, from a rickety balcony.

Drone 8 shows what Stambaugh's house looks like now.

The charred shell remains as it was just after the fire.  A neighbor's house, also burned by the flames, is being re-built.

Stambaugh lost everything he owned.

“The one that exploded was obviously the one down here in the charger,” he said, as walked in his fire-damaged garage.

In the garage, he showed where a Ryobi battery burst into flames.

The State Fire Marshal explained the process.

“He showed me how it happened, where it happened.  And explained to me how batteries act like Roman candles,” said Stambaugh.

He keeps a large file with all the evidence, including pictures of the recalled, damaged battery cells.

“They shoot off molten metal at a thousand degrees.  And that's why the house went up so fast,” he said.

The City of Treasure Island is fining Stambaugh $150 per day until the house is gone.

When asked, why doesn’t he just tear it down, his answer:

“Well one thing is, I don't have the money,” said Stambaugh.

A family dispute is halting a potential sale and demolition.

Multiple calls to the Tampa "Ryobi" attorney handling this case haven’t been returned.

If you want to check the batteries in your garage, you can do so by clicking here.

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