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These aren’t your grandpa’s alkaline batteries that are catching on fire, they are usually lithium-ion. Lithium is great for batteries, but it is also very reactive. If there is a fault in the material that sperates the components of the battery that allows the lithium to come into direct contact with the other elements of the battery, it can cause a thermal runaway due to the internal short circuit. Heat builds up, and the battery can swell, burst or cause a fire.