SOUTH BRUNSWICK — A cell phone charging in a power strip is being blamed for a fire that destroyed a home on Wednesday night.

A 911 caller said flames were coming from the phone in the basement of the home on Fresh Ponds Road around 5:35 p.m., bringing out a response from all three of South Brunswick's fire companies. The family was out of the home by the time firefighters arrived, with flames quickly spreading from the basement to the first floor and then the attic space of the single-family, ranch-style home, according to Monmouth Junction Fire Chief Scott Smith.

The house suffered heavy fire and smoke damage and was deemed uninhabitable, according to South Brunswick Police, who said there were no injuries. The family with school-aged children is staying with relatives.

Many cell phones are powered by lithium ion batteries, which store a lot of energy, according to New Jersey 101.5 IT consultant Dave Loudon, and if they are not manufactured correctly, they can release the energy in a "catastrophic way." The fire was under investigation by the South Brunswick Township Fire Safety Bureau.

A GoFundMe page was created to assist the family in replacing what was lost in the fire.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ.

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