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Exploding e-bike sparks fire safety reminder from London Fire Brigade

E-bike electric bike symbol on road

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A recently released video by London Fire Brigade (LFB) illustrates the potential hazards of faulty e-bikes when their lithium batteries fail.

The CCTV footage recorded last weekend, the second such occurrence in two weeks, reveals the risks associated with lithium batteries on e-bikes and e-scooters. The incident took place at a block of flats in Roehampton, where an e-bike’s battery went into thermal runaway, causing a severe fire.

Avi Gooransingh, a 29-year-old chef who uses his e-bike for daily commuting, barely escaped the incident, which took place at the entrance of his Tangley Grove home. The video documents the e-bike’s battery exploding and producing a highly flammable, toxic vapour cloud, which quickly ignited.

Firefighters were promptly on the scene, successfully extinguishing the fire. Despite their efforts, the exact cause of the explosion remains undetermined. However, Gooransingh had noticed an unusual smell, which led him to move the e-bike outside the flat before it erupted.

“I smelt the bike and immediately thought something might be wrong, so I moved the bike out of the flat,” Gooransingh said. “When the bike exploded, my sister and I ran back into the flat and called 999.”


This incident has highlighted the importance of the LFB’s #ChargeSafe campaign, which seeks to raise awareness of the fire risks associated with lithium batteries commonly used in e-bikes. So far in 2023, the LFB has been called to 52 e-bike and 12 e-scooter fires, including a fatal incident on New Years Day.

Deputy Commissioner Dom Ellis expressed concern about the potential dangers of inexpensive batteries sourced online that may not adhere to UK safety regulations.

“Once the bike goes into thermal runaway, it can lead to a rapid fire,” Ellis said. “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.”

Gooransingh further advised e-bike or scooter owners to charge and store their vehicles outside whenever possible. He also urged potential buyers to consider this requirement before making a purchase.

Safety tips for e-bikes

The London Fire Brigade has also provided a list of safety tips for all e-bike users to follow:

Ensure your escape route is always clear. This includes keeping it free of items like e-bikes and e-scooters. LFB recommend storing such items in safer spaces, such as a garage or shed, if possible.

Avoid altering or interfering with your battery. It’s crucial to adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Transforming manual bikes into e-bikes with online DIY kits can pose significant risks, including increased fire hazards.

Validate that your battery and charger comply with UK safety standards. Pay attention to any signs of malfunction, like unusual heat or physical changes in the battery or charger.

Use only the designated charger and purchase it from a reliable vendor. LFB emphasise caution when buying batteries from online platforms as they may not always meet the required safety standards.

Give the battery time to cool down before charging it. Batteries can become warm during operation, and allowing them to cool down before recharging could reduce the risk of failure. If you’re charging batteries indoors, follow LFB’s guidelines on safe charging.

Once the battery is fully charged, disconnect the charger. Remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when charging, and avoid leaving it unattended or charging overnight while you sleep.

Install smoke alarms in the areas where you charge your e-bikes or e-scooters, and regularly test their functionality. You can easily verify the safety of your home by using LFB’s free online home fire safety checking tool.

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