COLUMBUS, Ind. — The Columbus Fire Department is reminding people to safely dispose of batteries after a fire at the Columbus Post Office.

The reminder comes after the department responded to a report of a trash fire at the Columbus Post Office. By the time firefighters got to the scene, employees used a fire extinguisher to put out the smoldering trash.

Firefighters began investigating what started the fire to begin with. They learned employees collected a powdery substance spill and threw it away. That powder was identified as a pool treatment.

Firefighters located several batteries in a rubbish container that caught fire Wednesday morning at the Columbus Post Office. (Photo//Columbus Fire Department)

The department continued to investigate and found two 9-volt batteries and a 3-volt lithium battery. One of the 9-volt batteries showed signs of damage consistent with a short circuit.

The department concluded that at least one battery came in contact with other items to spark the smoldering fire.

While any battery can short circuit under the right conditions, the department said 9-volt batteries can be particularly dangerous. If a metal object touches both posts, a short circuit can occur.

The department reminds people to never store batteries in a drawer that contains metal items such as paper clips, pens, or coins. Batteries should be kept in their original packaging until they are ready for use.

When throwing away 9-volt batteries, people should cover battery posts with masking tape or electrical tape.