A safety alert, issued Tuesday, warned air travelers not to put lithium batteries in their check bags, due to the possibility of fire.

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WASHINGTON — The government is strongly urging airlines to tell passengers not to pack spare lithium batteries in checked luggage because they can ignite and fuel fires in baggage compartments.

The safety alert issued Tuesday by the Federal Aviation Administration recommends that airlines tell passengers when they are being ticketed and checked in not to put lithium rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries in their bags, including those checked at gates.

The agency is also urging airlines to make sure flight crews and ground personnel report all fires, explosions and incidents of packages charring or melting caused by batteries or battery-powered devices.

Passengers can still carry small numbers of spare batteries in luggage they carry on the plane.

Lithium batteries are used to power consumer electronics, including cellphones, laptops, power tools and toothbrushes.