15 Feb 23

Firefighters have issued another safety warning about “incredibly concerning” fires involving e-bikes in London.

A woman and three children escaped from a fire in a high-rise block of flats in the south-east of the capital on Friday after an e-bike caught fire.

It was believed to have been caused by a faulty lithium battery in the device.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) says it dealt with 88 fires involving e-bikes in 2022, up from 49 a year earlier, which is an 80% increase.

It says it dealt with 29 fires linked to e-scooters in 2022, compared to 30 in 2021.

The woman and three children were taken to hospital after breathing in smoke while escaping from a flat on the third floor of the seven-storey block in Erith on Friday night.

The fire service was called to the fire in Arthur Street at 22:51 GMT and it was just past midnight when it was brought under control.

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

A room where an e-bike was stored before causing a fire in Shepherd’s Bush last year

“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.”

The spokesman said fires predominately began from batteries that had been sourced on the internet, which might not meet safety standards.

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.

The scorched windows of the 12th-floor flat in Queensdale Crescent, Shepherd’s Bush
‘Dangerous chargers freely available’

About 60 firefighters battled flames in a 12th-floor flat with eight fire engines at the scene. The London Ambulance Service said one person was taken to hospital and two assessed at the site.

The spokesman urged people to store e-bikes and e-scooters in a shed or garage.

If stored inside, means of escape must not be obstructed, and smoke detectors should be fitted, he added.

According to Freedom of Information data, obtained by the insurer Zurich, the number of fires caused by batteries has surged almost 150% in the last year.

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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