Lower Hutt recycling yard fire reportedly sparked by a lithium ion battery

Yesterday's large fire at a scrap metal yard in Lower Hutt was reportedly caused by a lithium ion battery, and it's a growing problem, an industry body says.

The fire at the scrap yard has caused a street to be closed and nearby businesses to be evacuated in Lower Hutt. Source: 1 NEWS

The Scrap Metal Recycling Association of New Zealand today said in a statement that the fire at Macaulay Metals appeared to have been sparked by a battery discarded inside scrap metal.

The fire disrupted traffic and one person was taken to hospital as a precaution - SMRANZ spokesperson Korina Kirk said that person was an asthmatic and they are OK.

"Unfortunately, as tip fees increase and more materials such as gas bottles and lithium batteries are deemed unacceptable by municipal kerbside collections, people are hiding these prohibited and flammable items in car bodies and other scrap metal deliveries," Kirk said.

"A Lithium Ion battery appears to be the cause of the fire ... this is a concern because it is the second fire this year at a metals recycling facility that has been caused by the unstable, volatile and explosive nature of these batteries."

Kirk said the metal cycling industry contributes about $425m per year to New Zealand and that more recycling pathways are needed for materials like batteries.