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  • Writer's pictureTim Spears

Lithium-Ion Battery Fires: Key Incidents from the Last Week of May 2024



Lithium-ion battery fires continue to make headlines around the world, highlighting the significant risks these energy storage devices pose to public safety. This blog post summarizes several incidents where lithium-ion batteries caused fires or will involved in fires, explores the hazards associated with these batteries, and underscores the importance of community risk reduction strategies. As building and fire safety professionals, understanding these events can inform our practices and enhance our efforts in preventing similar occurrences.


The Rising Incidence of Lithium-Ion Battery Fires


Lithium-ion batteries are widespread in modern life, powering everything from smartphones to electric vehicles. However, their widespread use has brought to light the potential dangers they pose when not handled correctly. The following summaries of recent incidents demonstrate the severity of these risks:


Chelsea Apartment Fire (Mass.gov)

  • Event Summary: A lithium-ion battery from an electric scooter exploded in a Chelsea apartment, causing a fire that injured five people. The fire started at about 12:40 am on May 25, 2024, and firefighters quickly controlled it. The residents of the three-story, four-unit dwelling escaped, and the injured individuals received treatment for non-life-threatening injuries. Investigations revealed that the battery had been left charging for several hours before catching fire and exploding.

  • Source: Mass.gov


Midtown Tucson House Fires (KVOA)

  • Event Summary: The Tucson Fire Department determined that the probable cause of a fire that destroyed two houses in midtown Tucson was linked to lithium-ion batteries from electric scooters stored outside one of the residences. The fire, reported at 4:24 p.m., quickly spread from one house to a neighboring house, involving the attic space and making containment difficult. Firefighters managed to control the blaze within 50 minutes, and two people were taken to the hospital in stable condition.

  • Source: KVOA



Albany Houses Fire in Brooklyn (News 12 Brooklyn)

  • Event Summary: Firefighters responded to a fire at the Albany Houses in Brooklyn around 1:30 a.m., where they found a charred electric mobility scooter in the aftermath. The fire started on the second floor of Building 2 and was quickly extinguished. One person, who relied on the scooter due to mobility issues from battling cancer, was injured and is recovering from burns at the hospital. The fire marshal is investigating the official cause of the fire and whether the electric scooter was involved.

  • Source: News 12 Brooklyn


Cambridge Apartment Fire (CambridgeToday.ca)

  • Event Summary: A fire in Cambridge displaced 26 people after an overheated lithium-ion battery ignited in an apartment building. The fire, started when a resident was charging a battery inside their home. The fire quickly spread, making three apartments unlivable and sending five people to the hospital for smoke inhalation. The Cambridge Fire Department emphasized the importance of proper handling and charging of lithium-ion batteries to prevent such incidents.

  • Source: CambridgeToday.ca

Haifa Residential Building Fire (Hai Pa News Corporation)

  • Event Summary: A significant fire broke out in a residential building on Kabri Street in Kiryat Haim, Haifa, on May 29, 2024. The fire, which started on the fifth floor of the eight-story building, was believed to be caused by the lithium battery of an electric scooter. Firefighters quickly responded, extinguishing the flames and searching for any trapped residents. The exact cause of the fire is under investigation by a fire investigator.

  • Source: Hai Pa News Corporation


Chelsea Warehouse Fire (WGME)

  • Event Summary: A major fire destroyed the warehouse of New England Rent to Own in Chelsea, Maine. The fire, which broke out over the weekend, was caused by overheated lithium-ion batteries used in the company's power tools. The warehouse, which contained materials, tools, sheds, and modular homes, was completely engulfed in flames. No one was injured, and the company is now working to rebuild and support its customers.

  • Source: WGME


Hornsey Flat Fire (London Fire Brigade)

  • Event Summary: A flat fire in Hornsey, London, was attributed to a malfunctioning lithium-ion battery from an electric bike. The fire broke out in the early hours of May 28, 2024, and quickly spread throughout the flat, causing significant damage. Two were taken to the hospital with smoke inhalation. The London Fire Brigade emphasized the importance of using and charging lithium-ion batteries safely to prevent such incidents.

  • Source: London Fire Brigade

North Fairmount Structure Fire (WLWT Cincinnati)

  • Event Summary: The Cincinnati Fire Department responded to a structure fire in North Fairmount, which was caused by an electric scooter's lithium-ion battery. The fire broke out on May 27, 2024, in the morning and quickly spread. Firefighters extinguished the fire promptly, but it caused significant damage estimated at $50,000. The building's single resident had evacuated safely before the fire department arrived.

  • Source: WLWT Cincinnati


Revesby E-Bike Fire (Fire and Rescue NSW)

  • Event Summary: A fire caused by an e-bike's lithium-ion battery broke out in the garage of a unit block in Revesby, Sydney, around 1:15 am. The blaze led to one man, believed to be 70 years old, suffering from smoke inhalation while trying to extinguish the fire himself. Firefighters contained the fire, and the incident prompted Fire and Rescue NSW to issue safety warnings about the use and charging of lithium-ion batteries.

  • Source: Fire and Rescue NSW​​.


Vietnam Apartment Building Fire (Fire Engineering)

  • Event Summary: A devastating fire in an apartment building in Hanoi, Vietnam, resulted in the deaths of 14 people and injuries to six others. The fire, which began in a courtyard used as a garage for electric bikes, broke out around 12:30 am and was accompanied by several explosions. The narrow alleyways hindered firefighters' access, and it took an hour to extinguish the fire. The building housed 24 residents at the time of the fire. The official cause of the fire has not been released.

  • Source: Fire Engineering


Delhi Autobody Shop Fire (The Hamilton Spectator)

  • Event Summary: A fire at an autobody shop south of Delhi, Ontario, was attributed to improperly charged lithium-ion batteries. The fire started around 9:40 pm, and firefighters from four stations responded, containing the fire to a single garage bay. No one was injured, but the fire caused approximately $50,000 in damages. The Norfolk County Fire Department emphasized the importance of following proper charging guidelines to prevent such incidents.

  • Source: The Hamilton Spectator

Westchester Hazmat Response (White Plains Daily Voice)

  • Event Summary: On May 23, 2024, emergency crews responded to a residence on Loomis Drive in Somers, Westchester, due to a smoking lithium-ion battery. The Somers Volunteer Fire Department quickly arrived on the scene and requested assistance from the Westchester County Department of Emergency Services Hazardous Materials Team. The hazmat team successfully disposed of the smoking battery without any injuries reported.

  • Source: White Plains Daily Voice


Maine Firehouse Fire (FireRescue1)

  • Event Summary: A fire at the Stacyville Fire Department in Maine on May 22, 2024, was caused by multiple lithium-ion batteries charging inside the firehouse. The fire resulted in significant damage to the building and equipment. Firefighters from several surrounding departments responded to the incident and successfully extinguished the fire. One firefighter was treated for a non-fire-related leg injury.

  • Source: FireRescue1


​​Cheongyang County Warehouse Fire (The Korea Times)

  • Event Summary: A fire destroyed a warehouse filled with packaged goods in Cheongyang County, South Chungcheong Province, on May 23, 2024. Surveillance footage suggested that the fire was caused by the battery of an electric kickboard that was being charged at the time. The fire caused severe damage estimated at 46 million won ($33,600), but there were no casualties. More than 30 firefighters responded and extinguished the fire within 24 minutes.

  • Source: The Korea Times


Haslingden Recycling Lorry Fire (BBC News)

  • Event Summary: A discarded lithium-ion battery caused a fire in a recycling lorry near Rossendale Transfer Station at Duckworth Clough in Haslingden on May 23, 2024. The driver noticed smoke coming from the truck and managed to safely move the vehicle away from nearby buildings before calling emergency services. The fire was extinguished without any injuries. The incident prompted local authorities to warn about the dangers of improperly disposing of lithium-ion batteries.

  • Source: BBC News


Narraweena House Fire (Northern Beaches Advocate)

  • Event Summary: A house fire in Narraweena, Sydney, on May 23, 2024, was caused by lithium-ion batteries in an e-scooter that ignited while charging overnight. The fire resulted in significant damage to the house and led to the hospitalization of two people for smoke inhalation and burns. The fire was so intense that it caused a roof collapse, and firefighters had to tackle the blaze from outside. The family affected by the fire lost all their possessions and their pet cat.

  • Source: Northern Beaches Advocate


San Antonio House Fire (KENS 5)

  • Event Summary: A massive house fire in San Antonio on May 22, 2024, was caused by a lithium-ion battery. The fire destroyed the home, and the father of the family, Jesse Kucher, suffered severe burns while rescuing his family and pets. The fire department highlighted the importance of lithium-ion battery safety to prevent such devastating incidents.

  • Source: KENS 5


Southeast DC House Fire (WUSA 9)

  • Event Summary: An e-bike battery sparked a house fire in Southeast Washington, DC, on May 22, 2024, displacing a family of four. The fire started on the first floor of a two-story end row house on 16th Street Southeast. Residents were alerted by smoke alarms and noticed the e-bike batteries sparking on top of the refrigerator. DC Fire and EMS responded promptly, and the HAZMAT unit was in charge of securing and disposing of the batteries. The Red Cross was called to assist the displaced family.

  • Source: WUSA 9

Conclusion


The incidents highlighted in this blog post underscore the urgent need for comprehensive community risk reduction strategies focused on lithium-ion batteries. By understanding the risks and promoting best practices, we can mitigate the dangers associated with these essential yet potentially hazardous devices.​

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