With ebikes becoming so commonplace, it’s easy to become complacent about the fact that ebike batteries are high density stores of chemical energy in a potentially highly flammable form.
A fire that engulfed a three-level house in Sydney on Friday 19th March was started by an e-bike that was, ‘left on to charge overnight,’ according to firefighters.
More than 20 firefighters were sent to the Darlinghurst terrace to put out the blaze, which threatened seven people and burned through three storeys. Photos released by New South Wales Fire and Rescue showed a charred e-bike.
In a statement, the fire service said firefighters had arrived on the scene at 6am and found, ‘a three-level terrace well alight.’
“Fire investigators have deemed the cause of the fire to be an e-bike that was left on charge overnight,” the fire service said. “Thankfully the occupants had a working smoke alarm which alerted them to the fire.”
“Seven residents were home at the time of the incident, four occupants managed to safely self-evacuate and two occupants taking refuge on the balcony with one still inside the home,” firefighters said. “Firefighters managed to rescue the remaining three residents from inside the home and extinguish the fire just before 8am.”
Four people were treated on the scene by paramedics, with two among them taken to hospital for further treatment.
The fire service has warned the community to be aware of faulty e-bike chargers, damaged battery packs, and said bikes should be charged away from areas where people sleep.
“Only charge with the genuine manufacturer’s charger, if battery pack is damaged get it repaired by an authorised repairer [and] when possible charge bike away from habitable areas of the home,” it said. “Ensure you always have a working smoke alarm.”
Most of this article was first published in The Guardian Australia.