Firefighters have released shocking footage of the moment lithium batteries exploded in a Yorkshire property, which saw five people rushed to hospital for treatment. The incident, which took place in the early hours of the morning in Illingworth, was caused by the batteries of an electric motorbike being charged inside the house.
The video from the incident last month (February 24)shows the owner rushing downstairs in the middle of the night after being woken by a popping noise. The fire service said the noise meantthe batteries were failing due to thermal runaway, meaning there is too much heat generated within a battery. Seconds later the fire dramatically erupts and sets off the smoke alarm.
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WFRS), which responded to the incident, has since issued an urgent warning to the public about the dangers of lithium batteries. Describing the incident as ‘horrifying’, they also provided safety advice on how to properly store and charge the batteries.
Watch manager John Cavalier said: “While fires involving lithium batteries are common, having a video showing the violence of the fire’s development is not. It’s clear to see in the video that the fire is absolutely horrifying – none of us would want this to happen in our homes.”
The fire service said all five of the victims had smoke inhalation with one person suffering burns to their mouth and windpipe but none of the injuries were life threatening. However, the property’s kitchen was severely damaged from the smoke and heat, which also affected other parts of the house as doors were left open as people escaped from the fire.
Cavalier added: “Because lithium batteries can be found in a range of items, we frequently attend fires involving them. They can be found in cars, bikes, scooters, laptops, phones, and e-cigarettes, amongst many other items.
“Any other type of fire we deal with has usually developed slowly, and people are able to get out quickly. However, battery fires are so ferocious and spread so quickly that there isn’t as much time to escape.
“To help keep everyone in your family safe, don’t leave lithium batteries to charge unattended, don’t put them in the way of exits or in hallways and unplug chargers when the batteries are at full capacity. I’d like to thank the owner of the house who gave us permission to use the video – it clearly shows the dangers associated with lithium batteries and could help to save lives in West Yorkshire.”
Lithium battery safety advice
West Yorkshire Fire Service has also released safety advice on lithium batteries. They are:
- Always use the correct and branded charger for the battery.
- Buy the correct and branded replacement battery for the device.
- Do not use batteries with damaged casings, or casings that may be damaged.
- Do not use batteries that appear swollen or appear to have deformed in any way.
- Avoid storing, using, or charging batteries at very high or low temperatures.
- Don’t leave batteries continuously on charge. Once the charging cycle is complete, remove the battery from the charger.
- Charge batteries away from combustible items and preferably where they can be monitored.
- Never cover chargers or charging devices, for example a laptop and/or its power pack on or under bedding.
- When travelling by air, lithium batteries must be carried in your hand luggage.
- Don’t leave batteries unattended or charge them anywhere that blocks your exits.