Faulty e-bike lithium-ion batteries are believed to have caused two major fires in flats in Limehouse and Aldgate this month. The London Fire Brigade (LFB) reported that the first fire took place on Osborn Street in Aldgate on 23 February, resulting in one bedroom and a hallway in a five-storey building being completely destroyed. Two men suffered from smoke inhalation and were assessed at the scene by the London Ambulance Service.
Only 37 hours later, a second fire was reported on Copenhagen Place in Limehouse, resulting in most of a three-roomed flat being in ruins. The LFB received six calls regarding this fire, with the first call made by a resident who was awoken by the fire. The fire took hold so quickly that the smoke alarms in the property did not activate. Four men were assessed at the scene, and one man who suffered from smoke inhalation was taken to the hospital.
Tower Hamlets Council is warning residents about the risks of e-bike and e-scooter batteries after seeing a rise in related fire incidents in the borough. Councillor Kabir Ahmed, the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Inclusive Development and Housebuilding, said, “It is alarming to hear that these incidents are becoming more frequent in our borough. The safety of our residents is our main priority, and it is clear that we need to tackle this issue now.”
The LFB says it dealt with 88 fires involving e-bikes in 2022, up from 49 a year earlier, which is an 80% increase. Firefighters issued another safety warning about “incredibly concerning” fires involving e-bikes in London last month.
A London Fire Brigade spokesperson 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.”
The LFB recommends storing and charging e-bikes and e-scooters in a safe location such as a shed or a garage. If they have to be stored indoors, make sure there is smoke detection fitted and the means of escape is not obstructed. The LFB advises people not to charge them when they are asleep, so they can react quickly in case of an issue.
Councillor Kabir Ahmed urges residents to read the advice supplied by the LFB and share it widely within their communities and networks, saying, “We understand these incidents are accidental. However, there are actions all e-bike and e-scooter users, and those who live with them, can take to make sure we avoid fires like these happening in the future.”
For more guidance on how to safely charge your e-bike or e-scooter, please read the following article: https://www.london-fire.gov.uk/safety/the-home/e-scooters-and-e-bikes/