158 e-bike and e-scooter fires since start of 2023, fire chiefs say

Revealed: London firefighters have put out blazes from faulty e-bikes and e-scooters every two days since start of 2023

  • London Fire Brigade deals with explosion from e bike or scooter every two days
  • 158 fires from the vehicles broke out in the capital since the start of last year 

London firefighters have put out blazes from faulty e-bikes and e-scooters every two days since the start of this year, figures have revealed.

Statistics from London Fire Brigade show there were 158 fires caused by the vehicles since the start of last year.

Meanwhile across Britain, e-bike and e-scooter fires have killed eight people since 2020 and been linked to 190 injuries, The Times reports.

And there have been 48 e-bike fires and 12 e-scooter fires in the capital since the January 1 alone – at a rate of more than three a week.

In January, an e-bike left charging overnight ignited at the home of Rab Shearer, 60, in Litherland, Merseyside. Mr Shearer was killed in the blaze while his son Gary, 23, died in hospital two weeks later after trying in vain to save him.

London firefighters have put out blazes from faulty e-bikes and e-scooters every two days since the start of this year

Sofia Duarte, 21, died in a flat fire caused by a converted e-bike battery which burst into flames

Gary Shearer (right) has been named locally as the son of Rab Shearer (left) who died in a house fire in Litherland earlier this month

On New Year’s Day, Sofia Duarte, 21, was asleep at her home in Old Kent Road, south London, when a modified electric bike in her flat exploded.

READ MORE: New safety warning over e-bikes and e-scooters as shocking photos show devastation caused by devices bursting into flames

The ‘fun-loving’ daughter of Portuguese immigrants, who enjoyed dancing, spending time with friends and travelling, is believed to be the first person to be killed in London due to an e-bike fire.

Mobile phone footage from a passer-by showed fireballs emerging fromt he shattered windows, as people in the street screamed.

While her flatmates leapt from the second-storey window, Ms Duarte – who was disorientated and had worked a nightshift – attempted to flee using the stairwell.

Her friend Alda Simoes, 45, said: ‘Sofia was confused and instead of going throught he window, she went through the door.

‘The fire brigade were there within a couple of minutes but there was nothing they could do. The bikes were at the entrance.

‘Some of the neighbours were trying to break down the door because they knew Sofia was inside but they couldn’t go past the fire. She was there for I don’t know how long.’

Sales of e-bikes in the UK have soared to 160,000 over the past year and are the choice transport method for many workers in the gig economy, particularly low-paid commuter and food deliverers.

An e-bike from a high street brand will typically cost between £1,000 and £3,000 or a regular bike can be modified using a kit for around £400. While these products meet safety standards, far cheaper imports are available online and often have few safety check.

Hundreds of rental e-scooters which were damaged after a blaze broke out in Bristol on New Year’s Day last year

Batteries for e-bikes can be bought on the internet for as little as £175 and have been known to overheat or short-circuit.

Fire and rescue services have particular worries over the number of e-scooters and e-bikes kept in flats and shared homes, where they are regularly spotted being charged in communal hallways – potentially blocking fire exits.

Dell Williams, from Brent, saw his e-scooter burst into flames in a horrifying explosion – despite paying £450 for it and only owning it for a fortnight.

Had the 37-year-old not just got a puppy, called Digger, he says the blaze would have happened in his room. He believes he could have died.

Williams – a security guard – said: ‘It was mind blowing. I’m lost for words that I’m still here. I can’t believe I’m still here.

‘If this was in my room charging and it sparked off like how it did in the kitchen then I wouldn’t be here to tell the story.

Dell Williams and his 12-week-old pup Digger, without whom the scooter would have been in his room

‘I’m traumatised still from it all. If anyone got injured in the building – other tenants kids or even the parents – I would have that on my conscience.

‘I would know that it was my scooter that did that.’ 

A self-confessed ‘scooter-freak’, he has owned others before but says this has put him off.

He said: ‘I love scooters, but I’ve only got one life.’ 

Williams is now in emergency accomodation as the apartment is looked at.

But now – after the incident – he doesn’t think he would be able to go back. 

He continued: ‘It’s affected my anxiety and mental health. I’m in a safe place now but at the same time I’m more alert.

‘I turn off switches – anything that doesn’t need to be used in the house that’s electric I unplug it.’

Jamie Jones (pictured above), 17, died after crashing into a telegraph pole while riding his e-bike he had purchased four days earlier 

He now thinks there need to be more health and safety measures in place for people who buy electric scooters. 

The London Fire Brigade has spoken to firms Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats about the risk to delivery riders, who could modify the bikes and they keep them in the bedrooms.

The University of Cambridge has banned the vehicles from being stored on its sites, unless parked in a designated spot.

In guidance to students, the university stated: ‘When the battery cell heats up and ruptures, it releases a highly toxic and flammable vapour cloud. This is swiftly followed by ignition in the form of intense directional flames.

‘Due to the chemical composition of the batteries, they produce their own oxygen and heat, making them almost impossible to extinguish, even with professional fire-fighting equipment and techniques.’

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