E-bike warning issued after battery fire leaves five in hospital

The blaze at a house in Walthamstow is believed to have been caused by a converted e-bike's battery

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Firefighters have issued an urgent warning to e-bike users after a fire, thought to have been caused by malfunctioning battery, decimated a ground floor of a house in East London.

Two women, a man and two children were hospitalised for smoke inhalation following the incident.

The fire was started after the batteries of a converted e-bike malfunctioned, investigators for the London Fire Brigade (LFB) reported.

E-bike users were advised not to purchase knock-off chargers, as they were deemed as dangerous, following a significant rise in the number of fires involving the devices.

The damage at the house in Walthamstow
The damage at the house in Walthamstow
The fire is believed to have been started by a converted e-bike's battery
The fire is believed to have been started by a converted e-bike's battery

Firefighters urged the public to refrain from charging bikes overnight as the fires sparked by malfunctioning batteries could spread quickly and with "ferocity".

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

In 2022, five fire crews have already attended 32 fires sparked by e-bikes and a further seven involving e-scooters. Despite increased warnings, a further 17 fires involving lithium ion batteries were also reported this year.

The spokesman added: “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-bikes which have been converted, such as in this case.”

The damage caused was extensive
The damage caused was extensive

Continuing the LFB spokesman said the vast number of fires were sparked by e-bikes which were purchased from online marketplaces, which may not meet correct safety standards.

They reiterated their alert, stating: “Our advice is to try to store and charge these items in a safe location if possible, such as in a shed or garage.

"If they have to be stored inside, make sure there is smoke detection fitted and your means of escape is not obstructed.

“Make sure they are charged in a room where there is smoke detection and on a hard, flat surface.

"We would also suggest people try not to charge them when they are asleep, so that if there is an issue they can react quickly.”

The warning follows a devastating fire which tore through a high-rise residential block near Grenfell Tower last month, believed to have been started by a charging electric scooter.

At the height of the incident, 60 firefighters were tackling the fire in a 12th floor flat.

Fire crews led six people to safety and one man was taken to hospital.

The Brigade’s fire investigators determined the blaze was accidental and caused by the failure of an e-bike’s lithium-ion battery.