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‘Neighbours are paying the price’: Lithium battery pack leads to fire on Base Line Road

CTV cameras captured the moment London, Ont. firefighters discovered a sparking lithium battery pack in a charred apartment at 122 Base Line Rd. W. Sunday.

"It's a battery pack, a lithium battery pack,” shouted the firefighter out the window to his fellow crew members.

“It is an increased concern for us,” said Deputy Chief Matt Hepditch of the London Fire Department (LFD).

LFD told CTV News it's the probable cause of Sunday's blaze.

This isn't the first time it’s happened in London. In late March, an apartment on Ridout Street burned due to an E-Bike battery, and the same thing happened on King Edward Avenue in September 2022.

While it is occurring more often in London, New York City witnessed 219 fires related to those devices last year, prompting FDNY to put out a safety video this weekend.

“It’s very similar to unattended cooking, or lightning a candle,” said Hepditch. “When you are charging something with a battery, don’t leave it unattended. It could be a computer, laptop, cell phone, or E-Bike.”

London firefighters discovered a sparking lithium battery pack in a charred apartment at 122 Base Line Rd. W. in London, Ont. Fire officials said it was the cause of the blaze on June 4, 2023. (Gerry Dewan/CTV News London)

At E-RIDE on Wellington Street in London, Matt Long said in 13 years of business, he's never had an e-bike catch fire.

“A lot of people are buying online instead of buying legitimate bikes from the store like ours,” said Long,

He believes people should spend the extra $200 to $300 to ensure they are getting a battery from a reputable company.

He'd also like a push to see the batteries regulated.

“Those cheaper bikes aren't certified; they should be UL certified,” said Long. “We see that happening a lot in New York and Australia where they've made it a law to have the battery stamp UL certified. People are paying the price and, unfortunately, their neighbors are paying the price.”

Matt Long of E-RIDE in London, Ont., seen on June 5, 2023, believes lithium cells need to be regulated. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)

One of those neighbours is Michael Barrington. He is back home after being displaced Sunday.

He lives two floors above the apartment which caught fire, and also has an E-Bike.

“I charge my bike in my apartment because it'll get stolen 1,000 per cent,” said Barrington. “It wouldn't even make the night [if stored outdoors] but my charger is compatible for my bike. It’s from the manufacturer and that makes all the difference in the world as you can see.”

A restoration company is working on multiple units in this building. A worker on site told CTV News they hope to be able to get individual units repaired, and residents back home as soon as possible.

Those residents are currently staying at a local hotel with aid from Red Cross. Top Stories

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