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The footage from last weekend, the second such incident in as many weeks, highlights the risks of lithium batteries on e-bikes and e-scooters.
The bike exploded and burst into flames at a block of flats in Roehampton on the night of Saturday, 20 May. The CCTV footage from the entrance to Avi Gooransingh’s home in Tangley Grove shows the bike’s battery erupt after it goes into thermal runaway.
It very quickly produces a white and grey coloured highly flammable and toxic vapour cloud into the air, which ignites into a fireball a second later.
Avi, 29, narrowly avoids the fire and is able to run back into his flat, which he shares with his mother and sister, shocked but thankfully unhurt.
Firefighters were quickly on the scene and safely put out the fire.
The Brigade has been unable to determine exactly why the bike exploded but Avi knew something was not quite right because of the smell.
Avi, who used his e-bike to commute to and from his work as a chef at a hospital, said: “I arrived home and there was such a potent smell. I asked my sister if she was using nail polish remover but she replied no and said it was coming from my bike.
“I smelt the bike and I immediately thought something might be wrong so I thought the safest thing to do would be to get the bike out of the flat.
“When the bike exploded, I panicked. I thought my family was going to die, especially if I hadn’t moved it. My sister and I ran back into the flat and called 999.”
The startling video reinforces why London Fire Brigade has been running its #ChargeSafe campaign, which aims to highlight the fire risks associated with lithium batteries commonly used with e-bikes.
The Brigade has been called to 52 e-bike and 12 e-scooter fires so far in 2023, including one incident that sadly proved to be fatal on New Years Day.
Deputy Commissioner Dom Ellis said: “Although we can’t be sure why this particular battery failed, we do know that Avi’s e-bike was purchased second-hand and that an additional battery pack, bought from an online marketplace, had been fitted.
“Cheaper batteries purchased from online sources which don’t necessarily adhere to UK safety regulations are more likely to fail and present an increased fire risk. Our advice is also to buy from a reputable seller. As the video clearly shows, once the bike goes into thermal runaway, it can lead to a rapid and ferocious fire.
“Thankfully Avi and his family were unharmed. There’s no doubt this could have been a lot more serious which is why our advice is to store these items in a safe location if possible, such as a garage or a shed rather than inside the home.”
Avi says the experience has put him off having an e-bike or scooter.
He said: “I’m definitely shaken up by what happened and I’m definitely not having one in my home again.
“If you do own an e-bike or scooter, I would recommend charging and storing it outside, and if you can’t, then seriously think about whether you should buy one.”
Brigade safety tips for all e-bike users to follow
· Never block your escape route with anything, including e-bikes and e-scooters. Store them somewhere away from a main through route. Our advice is to store these items in a safe location if possible, such as a garage or a shed.
· Do not attempt to modify or tamper with your battery. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
· Converting pedal bikes into e-bikes using DIY kits bought online can be very dangerous. They pose a higher risk of fire.
· Check your battery and charger meets UK safety standards. Watch out for signs that the battery or charger aren’t working as they should – if it’s hot to the touch or has changed shape.
· Always use the correct charger and buy an official one from a reputable seller. We have particular concern where batteries have been purchased from online marketplaces and when they've been sourced on the internet, which may not meet the correct safety standards.
· Let the battery cool before charging. Batteries can get warm during their use and it is advisable to allow them to cool down before attempting to re-charge as they could be more susceptible to failure. If you are charging batteries indoors, please follow our advice on safe charging.
· Unplug your charger once it’s finished charging. Always follow manufacturers’ instructions when charging and we would advise not to leave it unattended or while people are asleep.
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30 November 2023