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Electric Bike Battery Explodes in Home When Not Charging, Nearly Burns It Down

Electric vehicles, whether we’re talking about cars, bicycles, or scooters, are a greener, cheaper alternative to personal transport. But they also come with a set of new challenges that we must all be aware of.
The remains of an e-bike whose battery exploded and nearly burned down a house 17 photos
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That’s the message coming from Craig Attard of South Australia’s Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS), after an incident in which the battery on an electric bicycle exploded and set the house on fire. The incident happened on Monday, and 9News Australia reports that damage is estimated at around AUD$200,000, which is about US$140,000 at the current exchange rate.

The fire started from the bike, whose charred remains are shown in the photo above: that’s actually what was left of the rear wheel and the hub motor. The battery ignited and, according to fist-responders, shot out of the house through a window as it exploded. The battery wasn’t charging when this happened. The rest of the bike was already on fire, and it ignited everything else around it.

The two women inside the house tried to get to the bike to take it outside, but gave up when they saw the flames. Instead, they ran outside as well, which was the perfect response, Attard explains: in the case of battery fires, one must leave professionals to handle them. “An explosion like that with batteries exploding on the face or the skin can be horrific so they were very lucky,” he says. “The safety procedures are not catching up to that new technology so just be wary of them like we are.”

This highlights the issue with EV batteries, including those for e-bikes: firefighters are still not prepared for the worst-case scenario of a fire, at least as far as equipment goes. Attard notes that there’s a rising trend of battery fires, so riders of e-bikes and e-scooters should be aware of the risks.

That might sound like he’s saying one should think twice before opting for an electric two-wheeler, just in case they lose their house or maybe even their lives in a fire caused by it. The issue in this case seems to have stemmed from a non-compliant battery, as News.com.au points out: the e-bike in question was running on a battery bought online, which was probably not part of the standard equipment.

To that media outlet, Attard says that most incidents link back to non-compliant or non-compatible batteries or overcharging of these batteries. In this context, the best piece of advice is to follow instructions regarding charging times and compatible equipment, and under no circumstance to use improvisations.



Editor's note: Photos in the gallery show other EV fires, for illustration purposes.

 
 
 
 
 

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