SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – The San Francisco Fire Department has seen an increase in fires caused by Lithium-ion batteries.
These batteries that are used to power E-bikes and E-scooters are catching fire during charging. It happened Tuesday at an apartment complex on Locksley Avenue.
KRON4 reached out to SFFD on March 5 when the battery of an e-scooter caught fire at an apartment building on Polk Street. Two months later, it’s still happening.
“We are seeing a rise in responses for battery-related fires throughout San Francisco,” said SFFD Captain Jonathan Baxter,
Baxter says it’s a growing problem nationwide. The batteries used to power e-scooters and e-bikes overheat during charging and catch fire.
Oftentimes the batteries catch fire at night while residents are asleep. That’s what happened early Tuesday morning at a high-rise on Locksley Ave.
“I hear fire alarms go off and start smelling like a plasticky smoke smell and I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s not good,’” said Drew French, who lives in the complex.
Five residents were hurt and eight were displaced from their homes because of the fire. To void another 911 call like this, Cpt. Baxter says not to throw away the charging instructions for e-bikes.
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“If it says charge it for four hours, charge it for four hours and set a timer every time you go to charge your battery when it is depleted. Don’t leave your charging device unattended,” Baxter advised.
The fire captain says owners should be checking their batteries often for damage or corrosion. He says to always use a single outlet and not a power strip to charge your Lithium-ion batteries and never trust a secondhand charging device that’s not built to handle the charging capacity of a large battery.
“Not using the proper cord, having a damaged battery, over-chagrining them… these are all things that with knowledge, we can prevent them, or eliminate,” Baxter said.
Captain Baxter says it’s important to think about where you’re charging the batteries for your e-bikes and e-scooters: never in your bedroom, an exit or entryway, or in front of windows. You should charge them in an area close to a working smoke alarm where you’ll quickly be alerted if overheating happens.