No one was hurt in an industrial fire at Burlington International Airport Tuesday afternoon.
The South Burlington Fire Department says the initial call came in shortly before 2:30. When crews arrived, they found flames coming from a storage container belonging to Beta Technologies, a company leasing hangar space from the airport. Beta Technologies develops experimental aircraft.
Lithium batteries in that storage container — which was outside the building — caught fire. “They had a catastrophic failure; we’re not exactly sure how yet,” South Burlington Fire Chief Terry Francis said. “Beta Technologies did a great job of setting up their emergency plan of how to respond to all of this, so by the time we got here — which was about three minutes after the initial call — they had already shut down the power to the battery units, rendering them relatively inert.”
Vermont Air Guard firefighters also responded because of what the chief said was the large amount of water necessary to extinguish a fire of this type. Employees had to evacuate the building for part of the afternoon, and the South Burlington Police closed Airport Road to traffic near the scene for about an hour and a half.
There was a similar lithium battery fire elsewhere on the airport property about a year and a half ago.