Firefighters have issued urgent warnings about e-bike fires following a fire at a high-rise building in west London.
Residents were evacuated from the Stebbing House in Queensdale Crescent, Shepherd’s Bush, on Tuesday morning as firefighters battled a blaze at a 12th-floor apartment.
LFB fire investigators said the fire was accidental and caused by the failure of an e-bike’s lithium-ion battery.
Liiban Shakat, who lives in the shared apartment, told how his friend, who had been living with him for a few days, was charging an e-bike battery in the shared apartment when it started smoking in the socket.
The fire service has now issued an urgent warning, saying they have seen a huge increase in e-bike and e-scooter fires as they become more popular.
According to the LBF, in 2022 alone, the crews took part in 32 fires with e-bikes and a further seven with e-scooters.
The brigade said there had also been another 17 fires involving other lithium-ion batteries.
Meanwhile, more than 100 lithium-ion battery fires broke out in the capital last year, LBF said.
LBF Assistant Fire Safety Officer Charlie Pugsley said: “It is incredibly worrying that we continue to see an increase in incidents involving e-bikes.
“When these batteries and chargers fail, they do so with ferocity, and because the fires develop so quickly, the situation can quickly become incredibly serious.
“These items are often stored in common areas and corridors and can block people’s only means of escape.
“Another problem with lithium-ion battery fires, which we saw in yesterday’s fire, is that if they fail, they eject their contents over a wide area, which can result in multiple fire zones in the space where the fire has arisen. ”
The LBF advises owners not to park e-bikes or e-scooters in common areas to prevent the risk of fire if the only means of escape is blocked.
Mr Pugsley also warned of a “significant risk” from the converted e-bikes.
“We see predominantly batteries bought from online marketplaces and batteries purchased online that may not meet the correct safety standards,” he said.
“Lithium-ion batteries are prone to failure if the wrong chargers are used.”
According to the LBF, users are advised to store and charge these items in a safe place whenever possible, e.g. in a shed or garage, or ensuring a smoke detector is in place and escape routes are not obstructed or kept indoors.
“Make sure they are charged in a smoke-detected room and on a hard, level surface,” warned Mr Pugsley.
“We would also suggest that people try not to charge them when they’re asleep so they can respond quickly if there’s a problem.”
Homeowners are urged to get fire safety advice tailored to their home through the LBF’s free tool, the Home Fire Safety Checker.
Hammersmith and Fulham Council said it was considering robust measures to ban charging at council accommodation and would be reaching out to Government to enable them to do so.
A spokesman said: “We are grateful to the emergency services for their quick response yesterday.
“We are urging all residents to heed the advice of the London Fire Brigade when charging e-scooters and e-bikes at home.
“These batteries and chargers, often bought unregulated online, are highly dangerous and put people at unacceptable risk.”
The Shepherd’s Bush fire was reported at 9:23 am Tuesday and was under control by 10:55 am.
The London Fire Brigade (LFB) said eight fire engines and about 60 firefighters attended the scene, less than a mile from Grenfell Tower.
London Ambulance Service said one person was taken to hospital and two were examined at the scene.