Eastbourne fire caused by electric bike battery

A fire at a property in Eastbourne was started by a battery of an e-bike – and crews say they’re seeing a rise in similar incidents.

Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 12:27 pm

Fire crews from Hailsham and Eastbourne attended the fire on July 3 at a residential property.

East Sussex Fire & Rescue (ESFRS) said crews used breathing apparatus to enter the building and one hose reel jet to extinguish the fire which had started in the kitchen.

Crews said ‘considerable damage’ was done to the kitchen.

E-bike battery. Photo from East Sussex Fire & Rescue. SUS-210720-115833001

A fire investigation found it had been caused by an e-bike battery that had ‘exploded’ whilst charging in the kitchen area.

ESFRS said it’s seen a rise in fires involving e-bike batteries in recent weeks.

A similar incident happened at a block of flats in London. The London Fire Brigade said the e-bike battery was charging in the communal hallway and therefore blocked the way residents could escape during the fire. Luckily the occupants of the flats escaped through the window.

Station officer Matt Cullen, a fire investigation officer with London Fire Brigade said, “We have seen that when these batteries and chargers fail, they do so with ferocity which can leave residents with few safe options for escape.

Damage caused by battery explosion. Photo from East Sussex Fire & Rescue. SUS-210720-115843001

“These bikes and scooters are often stored and charged in escape routes in homes or communal areas so when a fire does occur, escape routes are blocked which immediately makes an already serious situation much more frightening for those involved.

“We have seen people forced into jumping from windows as they can’t get out of their front doors as the bike or scooter which has caught fire is in front of it.

“Even when the bikes or scooters aren’t in escape routes or communal areas, the fires are fierce enough that they pose an immediate danger to all occupants and we are seeing an increase in these types of fires.”

Fire crews have issued the following top tips to stay safe with e-bikes:

• Always use the correct official charger from a reputable seller.

• Allow batteries to cool down before attempting to re-charge.

• Batteries should always be charged on hard flat surfaces.

• Don’t use a damaged battery.

• Always make sure you unplug your charger once it’s finished charging. Do not to leave it unattended or charging whilst you are asleep.

• Ensure you have smoke alarms fitted in areas where e-bikes or e-scooters are being charged and make sure they are tested regularly.

• Never block your escape route with anything.