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Fire burns lithium batteries at Beta Technologies

A photo showing a building with trucks outside of it against a blue sky with a few clouds
Henry Epp
/
Vermont Public
Beta is headquartered in this building on the grounds of the Burlington airport in South Burlington. A shipping container holding lithium batteries caught fire last week.

A shipping container holding lithium batteries near the South Burlington headquarters of electric aviation startup Beta Technologies caught fire last week. No one was injured and no other property was damaged in the blaze, according to the company.

Crews from the South Burlington and the Vermont Air National Guard responded to the fire in the early morning hours on Friday. Flames from the burning batteries rose over 20 feet into the air, according to an incident report from the South Burlington Fire Department.

Responders were able to put out the fire within 30 minutes, but smoke carried into the surrounding neighborhood. One nearby resident described the smoke as smelling like "burning electronics."

More from Vermont Public: Vermont's Beta Technologies is growing fast. But it faces challenges on its path to electric flight

In a written statement, a Beta spokesperson said the company considers the health and safety of the community "paramount," and says it will take all precautions to "minimize impacts and mitigate risks." The company said its “response plans and safety precautions” worked effectively, and it is investigating the cause of the fire.

Beta has raised over $800 million to date from investors to build an electric aircraft. It recently signed a 75-year lease with the City of Burlington to build a 355,000-square-foot manufacturing facility on the grounds of the Burlington airport. The company expects to be delivering its aircraft to customers in two years, pending approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch with reporter Henry Epp @TheHenryEpp.

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Henry is a reporter covering business, the economy and infrastructure at Vermont Public. He's also co-host of The Frequency, Vermont Public's daily news podcast, along with Anna Van Dine. Henry came to Vermont Public in 2017, and worked as the station's host of All Things Considered until November 2021. Prior to that, he was a reporter and host of Morning Edition at New England Public Media in western Massachusetts. A graduate of Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, Henry was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
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