E-bikes catch fire in Bethnal Green second-hand shop

The e-bike and shop floor were partially damaged  (London Fire Brigade)
The e-bike and shop floor were partially damaged (London Fire Brigade)

At least two faulty lithium ion batteries are believed to have caused several fires in a shop selling second-hand electric bikes in Bethnal Green.

Staff at Bike Scooter Repair & Parts on Cambridge Heath Road heard a loud bang and saw smoke coming out of an e-bike on Monday evening.

Firefighters from the London Fire Brigade (LFB) wearing breathing apparatus were called just before 11pm. While they were on scene a second e-bike caught fire and both bikes were removed.

Firefighters extinguished several small fires on the shop floor, LFB said.

A spokesperson said: “Batteries can present a fire risk if they’re over-charged, short circuited, submerged in water or damaged, so it’s really important to protect them against being damaged and to charge them safely.

“We have seen people forced into jumping from windows as they can’t get out of their front doors as the bike or scooter which has caught fire is in front of it.

“Even when the bikes or scooters aren’t in escape routes or communal areas, the fires are fierce enough that they pose an immediate danger to all occupants and we are seeing an increase in these types of fires.”

Staff at Bike Scooter Repair & Parts on Cambridge Heath Road heard a loud bang (London Fire Brigade)
Staff at Bike Scooter Repair & Parts on Cambridge Heath Road heard a loud bang (London Fire Brigade)

Firefighters from Bethnal Green and Whitechapel were called to the scene.

Last month London Mayor Sadiq Khan issued a fire alert about privately-owned e-scooters and online conversion kits for e-bikes.

The Mayor said he had “serious safety concerns” that some lithium-ion batteries bought on the web breached trading standards and were a fire hazard.

“Conversion kits which allow people to convert a normal bike to an e-bike are the cause of many of the fires. They have usually been bought from an online marketplaces and may not meet the correct safety standards.”

The London Fire Brigade revealed that there had been 130 fires this year involving the batteries — 65 used by e-bikes, 24 used by e-scooters and the remainder involving those used in e-cigarettes.

Conversion kits that turn a bike into an e-bike are available for less than £200. Some bikes are fitted with two batteries in “rogue” conversions to increase their speed.

London Fire Brigade has three tips for using lithium-ion batteries safely:

  • Avoid storing, using or charging batteries at very high or low temperatures.

  • Protect batteries against being damaged – that’s crushed, punctured or immersed in water.

  • Do not over charge your product - once your item is fully charged, disconnect it and turn the charger off.