Two men taken to hospital after house fire involving lithium battery

Fire crews rescued two men trapped in a burning building in the early hours of this morning following a fire believed to have been caused by a lithium battery igniting.

Toby May, Group Manager for Leeds District

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service was called just after 2am this morning to a fire on the ground floor of a three-storey mid terraced property at Luxor View, Harehills in Leeds.

Three engines attended, one from Leeds and two from Killingbeck.

After using a jet to tackle the blaze, which had engulfed half the home, firefighters used breathing apparatus to enter the property and rescue two men, both aged around 25. They were taken to hospital by ambulance suffering from smoke inhalation. 

A further casualty was able to make their own escape. Crews also evacuated an elderly couple from a property next door due to smoke in their premises.

Firefighters had to return to the property a short time later following reports of reignition from a lithium battery. Dry powder extinguishers were used to tackle the secondary blaze, and then crews damped down to ensure it was out.

Toby May, Group Manager for Leeds District, said: “While investigations are still on going into the cause of the fire, we believe it may have been started by a lithium battery igniting.

“Thankfully, smoke detectors were in place at this house, which alerted the occupants early enough so we could get there and assist everyone to safety.

“We are seeing a rise in incidents which are involving lithium batteries across West Yorkshire, as are other places nationally. These are often used in e-bikes, e-scooters, and electric cars.

“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.

“Our advice is to try and store and charge e-bikes and e-scooters in a safe location if possible, such as in a shed or garage, and if they must be stored inside, make sure there is smoke detection fitted and your means of escape is not obstructed.

“Please follow our advice on using safe charging and ensure everyone in your home knows what to do in the event of a fire.”

To reduce the risk of lithium battery fires:

•         Never leave batteries charging in a building that is unattended or overnight when you are sleeping in the property.

•         Unplug or disconnect from the battery once charging is complete.

•         Do not allow the battery to overheat and ensure it is charged on a hard surface where heat can disperse.

•         Monitor and assess for damage to the battery and the charger, following the manufacturer’s guidance for replacement or repairs.

•         Ensure smoke alarms – preferably interlinked detectors around the property - are fitted where charging is taking place and, if possible, store and charge away from main living areas.