Family believes laptop battery led to devastating house fire

LAWRENCE, Ind. (WTTV) -- A mother and daughter believe their online purchase led to a devastating fire in their apartment.

Alexa Brill, her mom Tami, and son Nolin live a relatively normal, happy life in their Lawrence apartment, but it took some time to get back to normal.

It started last fall, when Alexa received a shocking phone call.

"The manager of the apartments called me and she said there was a fire in the apartment," Brill said.

Fortunately, the fire broke out while the family was out, but by the time they got home they had lost almost everything, including Alexa's dog Leelo.

"I ran up to the apartment, they already had the door wide open, and I dropped to my knees because of what it looked inside," Brill said.

In the days following, Tami Brill said she began to suspect the fire may have been caused by a laptop battery she had just bought on Amazon.com that week for her Acer brand laptop.

RELATED: Photos from the scene of the devastating incident

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Family believes laptop batter led to devastating house fire
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Family believes laptop batter led to devastating house fire
A mother and daughter believe their online purchase led to a devastating fire in their apartment.   
A mother and daughter believe their online purchase led to a devastating fire in their apartment.   
A mother and daughter believe their online purchase led to a devastating fire in their apartment.   
A mother and daughter believe their online purchase led to a devastating fire in their apartment.   
A mother and daughter believe their online purchase led to a devastating fire in their apartment.   
A mother and daughter believe their online purchase led to a devastating fire in their apartment.   
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"There was a hole in it where the battery was, and I kept telling the firefighters, 'It's that battery, I know it is,'" Brill said.

The Lawrence Fire Department ruled the cause of the fire undetermined. The Brills said their insurance company narrowed it down to the laptop, though State Farm could not confirm that information to CBS4.

After the fire, Tami tried to alert Amazon about it, but she couldn't find the right person.

"All I can find is a customer service number. I can't find a legality department, I can't find legal. I can't find anything to let them know this happened," Brill said.

She called CBS4 Problem Solvers and we got to work. Through a public relations representative, we sent a request to Amazon, and Brill said she heard back right away.

"After you guys contacted them is when I got the phone call," Brill said. "She said she felt bad, especially about the dog."

Amazon's apology didn't end there, according to Brill. She said the next day, a package arrived, and it continued from there for several days.

"She said I'm going to send you some toys for Nolin, because he lost all his toys," Brill said.

Brill said the company sent a block set, Hot Wheels, other toys, and even a new child's tablet. It also sent a memento for the family's dog, Leelo.

CBS4 Problem Solvers succeeded in getting Amazon to contact Brill and recouping some of the family's losses. Brill said it also appeared to her like the battery she bought had been removed from the website.

Brill also said Amazon's insurance company was investigating whether it would pay the family more for its losses.

"At least they're looking into it. At least they're investigating," Brill said.

The family said regardless of what happens, they are more careful about their purchases and want to be sure other people do the same.

"I would just watch out for what you're buying. When it's online you can't really tell what you're buying," Alexa Brill said.

CBS4 reached out to Amazon for a statement on this story or more information. The company did not respond to multiple attempts to contact them through their PR division and through two other PR firms.

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