Recovery for business after biggest lithium battery fire

A business that was hit by West Yorkshire’s biggest lithium battery fire is celebrating its recovery this weekend.

Trade Bathrooms - Fire Damage

Trade Bathroom and Tiles Ltd on Saville Road in Castleford will be opening its doors this weekend after almost of year of work to rebuild following the fire last year.

The company, which has been in business for 26 years, was gutted following the blaze, which was triggered by a lithium battery in a tool that was charging overnight. Owners Sandra and Paul Marchington said they will never forget that night, on April 28th, when they were called by crews from West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS).

“We received a call just after 1.30am from the fire brigade asking us to come down to the showroom – and we knew it wasn’t good news,” said Sandra. “We live 15 minutes away and as we drove there we could see the smoke and flames. The end of the road was closed off and there were fire engines all over the place. They had cut the shutters to get into the building, and 50 of them were busy fighting the fire when we arrived.

“It was amazing to watch all the firefighters working together so efficiently while we watched on, totally bewildered. At one point one of the firefighters came out and took her helmet off and said ‘Wow it’s a warm one’ and that was when it hit me and I burst into tears. I’ve got two daughters and to think these people were going into a burning building just got to me.”

Sandra said it was that afternoon when crews managed to get the fire under control, and they left the site at 7pm. Fire crews managed to quickly find out the cause of the fire, as one area of the showroom was particularly hot. Sandra said: “We were told 100 per cent of the building was affected and so we knew nothing could be salvaged.

“You could see a scorch mark which had started in one area and this was definitely the hottest spot. We were told it was the workshop, where we have rechargeable tools. We were recharging the tools in the evening ready for the next day, one had exploded and that one battery brought five units down. When the fire was out the firefighters actually found the component that had caused the fire – it was unbelievable.”

After the fire Sandra and Paul put a plan in place, notifying customers and making sure every order was fulfilled. “Our customers were fantastic and very understanding,” she said. “Since then we have taken it one day at a time and totally rebuilt the premises. We gutted the building, there was no roof or walls, but thankfully the brickwork was safe. My husband Paul has replanned the whole showroom.”

The business has its official opening which will be taking place all day on Saturday, February 11th which is when the public will be able to look around the new site. 

Sandra said: “With the support and encouragement from family, friends, customers and of course hard work from our team we are excited to finally have the doors open and welcome the public back into our showroom.”

The horrific blaze last year saw crews attend from stations across West Yorkshire, as well as the technical rescue unit and aerial support. 

Dave Walton, Deputy Chief Fire Officer, said: “We are seeing an increase in lithium battery fires, especially as e-bikes and e-scooters become more popular.

Lithium batteries are in lots of everyday items from vaping devices and electric toothbrushes to mobile phones and laptops. The public need to be aware of the dangers as lithium is highly flammable and particularly dangerous because of the battery's high energy density. People need to be careful when charging these batteries and to ensure they are recycled properly and not disposed of with general household waste.

“The fire at Trade Bathroom and Tiles Ltd was devastating, but it is fantastic to see that Sandra and Paul have rebuilt their business. We all wish them many more years of success.”