Five hospitalized after converted e-bike causes blaze at a London house

The interior of a house following a fire
(Image credit: London Fire Brigade)

The London Fire Brigade was called to a house fire in Walthamstow, London, on Sunday, July 3rd, in which five people were hospitalized after breathing in toxic smoke from the blaze. After the fire was dealt with, the LFB's fire investigation team concluded that it was caused by failing lithium-ion batteries used to power a converted e-bike that was stored in the house.

In a statement following the fire, 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-bikes which have been converted, such as in this case.

The exterior of a house following a fire

(Image credit: London Fire Brigade)

"We are predominantly seeing fires in ones which have been purchased from online market places and batteries which have been sourced on the internet, which may not meet the correct safety standards.

“Our advice is to try and 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 inside, make sure there is smoke detection fitted and your means of escape is not obstructed.

“However we know this won’t be possible for everyone, so if you are charging them indoors, please follow our advice on using safe charging and ensure everyone in your home knows what to do in the event of a fire.

“Make sure they are charged in a room where there is smoke detection and on a hard, flat surface. We would 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 1656 and the fire was under control by 1858. Four fire engines and around 25 firefighters from Walthamstow, Leyton, Leytonstone and Stratford fire stations were at the scene.

Richard Owen
Editor, Bike Perfect

Rich is the editor of the team. He worked as a print journalist and editor for over 20 years, before transitioning to purely digital media in 2021. Rich bought his first mountain bike (a rigid Scott Tampico) in 1995 and has been riding MTB for almost 30 years. He likes hitting flowy yet technical trails and is a jack of many MTB trades, competing in cross-country, enduro and long-distance races over the years. A resident of North Devon, he can mostly be found pedaling furiously around his local trails, or slightly further afield on Exmoor and elsewhere in Britain's southwest.

Current rides: Merida One-Forty 6000, Banshee Paradox

Height: 175cm

Weight: 69kg