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3 October 2023

‘severe’ Flat Fire In Coventry High-rise Started By Faulty E-bike Battery

On 30 September 2023, West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) responded to reports of a “severe” flat fire coming from the 11th floor of a 16-storey residential building in Coventry.

Around 10 fire appliances were dispatched to the scene, with approximately 50 firefighters swiftly working to bring the flames under control. Supporting the operation were three brigade response vehicles and a hydraulic aerial platform. Crews donned breathing apparatus to tackle the blaze and were able to successfully extinguish the fire within a few hours of their arrival.

Onlookers told local media of smoke billowing from the windows of the 11th-floor flat and spreading to the upper floors. In a statement, WMFS said: “We evacuated a number of people from their flats, but several were able to stay in their homes.”

Emergency services, including the police and the West Midlands Ambulance Service Hazardous Area Response Team, worked closely with Citizen Housing to temporarily relocate affected residents to a safe place. While no serious injuries were reported, it is believed that around 50 people stayed at a nearby church for several hours before they were able to return home.

WMFS added that the fire “affected all of the flat in which it broke out”, with photographs showing the interior of the high-rise flat completely burned out. WFMS tweeted: “This is the shocking damage caused by a fire in a Coventry flat on Saturday.”

Following an investigation into the cause of the fire, the service confirmed: “We believe this fire started accidentally as a result of an electric bike battery being left on charge.”

MP for Coventry North West, Taiwo Owatemi expressed her thanks to the fire crews who worked so quickly to bring the fire under control:

“Thank you to the firefighters who have responded quickly to tackle the fire at Samuel Vale House. I hope everyone is safe and that the fire has not resulted in any serious injuries,” she said.

As reported by Birmingham Live, the fire service has since reissued warnings to owners of e-bikes about how to charge them in a safe manner:

"To reduce the risk of fires related to e-bikes at home, always exercise caution when charging batteries. Never attempt to modify or tamper with the battery. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions.

"When charging, always adhere to the manufacturer's instructions and never leave a battery charging unattended or charge it while you are sleeping. When it's fully charged, unplug your charger right away. Always use the correct charger for your batteries and buy replacements from reputable sellers only."

The advice from WMFS is in line with the guidance issued by other fire and rescue services across England, including the London Fire Brigade, who last month reported that personal e-bike and e-scooter fires in the capital were at a “record high”.

(Photograph by West Midlands Fire Service)

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