Warning after e-bike bursts into flames at block of flats

A woman and three children were treated in hospital after the fire which is believed to have been caused by a faulty e-bike battery.

Firefighters issue warning after e-bike bursts into flames at block of flats in London iStock

Firefighters have renewed a safety warning about “incredibly concerning” fires involving e-bikes after one went up in flames at a high-rise block of flats in south-east London.

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) spoke out after a woman and three children were treated for smoke inhalation and taken to hospital after escaping from a flat on the third floor of a seven-storey block in Erith on Friday.

The fire in Arthur Street is believed to have been caused by a faulty e-bike lithium battery.

LFB said it dealt with 88 fires involving e-bikes and 29 linked to e-scooters in 2022, up from 49 related to e-bikes and 30 to e-scooters a year earlier.

A spokesman said: “It’s incredibly concerning we are continuing to see a rise in incidents involving e-bikes and e-scooters.

“When these batteries and chargers fail they do so with ferocity, and because the fires develop so rapidly the situation can quickly become incredibly serious.

“Lithium-ion batteries are susceptible to failure if incorrect chargers are used and there is a significant risk posed by e-scooters which have been converted.

“We are predominantly seeing fires in ones which have been purchased from online marketplaces and batteries which have been sourced on the internet (and) may not meet the correct safety standards.”

The LFB was called to the Erith fire at 10.51pm on Friday and it was just past midnight when it was under control.

A similar warning about fires involving e-bikes was issued in June after residents were evacuated from Stebbing House in Queensdale Crescent, Shepherd’s Bush, as firefighters battled flames in a 12th floor flat.

It led to eight fire engines and about 60 firefighters attending the scene, while the London Ambulance Service said one person was taken to hospital and two assessed at the site.

The spokesman added on Monday: “Our advice is to try and store and charge these items in a safe location if possible, such as in a shed or garage, and if they have to be stored inside, make sure there is smoke detection fitted and your means of escape is not obstructed.

“However we know this won’t be possible for everyone, so if you are charging them indoors, please follow our advice on safe charging and ensure everyone in your home knows what to do in the event of a fire.”

Lesley Rudd, chief executive of the Electrical Safety First charity, which aims to reduce deaths and injuries caused by electrical accidents, called for online marketplaces to be regulated to “force them to take reasonable steps to ensure that goods sold on their platform are safe”.

She said: “Our own investigations have found dangerous chargers for e-bikes freely available on online marketplaces, leaving shoppers at serious risk of a fire.”

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