The London Fire Brigade has repeated its warnings about e-scooter batteries, and the risks of leaving them charging when unattended, after a serious blaze in a south London maisonette put the lives of at least six people in harm’s way.
Part of a split-level maisonette on Amesbury Avenue in Streatham Hill was damaged by fire across the first and second floors.
Two people left the building before the Brigade arrived. Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus rescued a woman via an internal staircase using a fire escape hood. Three people were treated on scene by London Ambulance Service crews for smoke inhalation and two were taken to hospital.
The fire is believed to have been caused by the failure of an e-scooter battery.
A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said: “It’s incredibly concerning we are continuing to see a rise in incidents involving e-bikes and e-scooters.
“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-scooters which have been converted.
“We are predominantly seeing fires in ones which have been purchased from online marketplaces and batteries which have been sourced on the internet, which may not meet the correct safety standards.
“Our advice is to try to store and charge these items in a safe location if possible, such as in a shed or garage, and if they have to be stored in the home, make sure there is smoke detection fitted and your means of escape is not obstructed.
“We know this won’t be possible for everyone, so if you are charging them indoors, please follow our advice on safe charging and ensure everyone in your home knows what to do in the event of a fire.
“We also suggest people try not to charge them when they are asleep, so that if there is an issue they can react quickly.”
The Brigade was called at 8am on Saturday and the fire was under control by 9.20am. Three fire engines and around 15 firefighters from West Norwood and Brixton fire stations attended the scene.
E-bike and e-scooter safety advice
- Always use the correct charger for the product and buy an official one from a reputable seller.
- 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.
- Batteries should always be charged on hard flat surfaces where heat can dissipate.
- Batteries can also pose a risk if they have been damaged, so try to ensure they are not getting knocked around while in use or while being carried as spares as this can increase the chance of damage to cells.
- You should always make sure you 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.
- 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, including bikes and scooters. Store them somewhere away from a main through route.
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