This is the moment a firefighter rescued a man dangling precariously from a window ledge after trying to escape an e-bike fire at a flat.
The blaze broke out in a third-floor apartment in Whitechapel at around 4.45am last Wednesday after a converted e-bike charging in the hallway exploded.
Two people escaped from the flat through the door, but two men were unable leave as their exit was blocked by the fire.
One of the men tried to leave via a window and, as the video shows, ended up hanging off a ledge as a neighbour below held his legs.
Both men were rescued from separate windows by firefighters using ladders, said London Fire Bridage.
One woman was taken to hospital as a precaution for smoke inhalation.
Danny McLaughlin, 64, a neighbour who watched one of the rescues unfold and captured it on his phone, said: ‘I heard shouting that woke me up.
‘I looked out of one of my windows and saw one of the men hanging from a third-floor window ledge in the neighbouring block.
‘His legs were being held, to stop him falling, by a neighbour in the window of the flat below the fire.
‘There were lots of other residents watching what was going on including some who had left the block where the fire was.
‘The fire brigade arrived quickly and a firefighter climbed a ladder which had been manoeuvred into position and the man was safely brought down.’
He said a lot of residents in his and surrounding blocks of flats are now worried about more e-bike or e-scooter fires happening and the risk they could be trapped or hurt.
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The fire is being treated as accidental and is believed to have been caused by the failure of a lithium battery pack for a converted e-bike that was charging in the hallway of the flat.
Borough Commander for Tower Hamlets, Richard Tapp, said: ‘This is sadly yet another example in our borough of the dangers e-bikes and e-scooters can pose if the battery fails catastrophically and catches fire.
‘This can be caused by reasons including counterfeit or unsafe products being sold online, the wrong charger being used, or if components are fitted or used incorrectly.’
Commander Tapp said crews were on the scene within four minutes of the fire being reported and set about rescuing the two men, as well as tackling the blaze.
He added: ‘A number of e-bikes were being stored in the hallway and this fire shows just how dangerous blocking your escape route can be.
‘You should keep an e-bike or e-scooter outside or in a shed. If this is not possible, put it in a room where you can shut a door and contain a fire.
‘Although the smoke alarm sounded, this incident also highlights the risks of charging whilst people are sleeping as there is less time to react before the fire intensifies.’
London Fire Brigade said e-bikes and e-scooters have become London’s fastest-growing fire trend with a fire reported once every two days in 2023 on average.
There were a total of 155 e-bike and e-scooter fires in the capital last year, a 78% increase on 2022.
The Brigade has been running its #ChargeSafe campaign to raise awareness of the fire risks associated with these types of vehicles and seek changes to regulation to prevent poor quality batteries, chargers and conversion kits being sold via online marketplaces.
Last month, the Office for Product Safety & Standards announced it has taken enforcement action against the manufacturer of the UPP battery after its products were linked to a number of fires in the UK, including at a hotel in Kensington.
Five online marketplaces have been issued with Withdrawal Notices, which require them to stop supplying the UPP battery. The Withdrawal Notice has also been issued to 20 sellers directly and the China-based manufacturer.
The Brigade’s assistant commissioner for fire safety, Charlie Pugsley, said: ‘The recent enforcement action taken by the Office for Product Safety & Standards is a welcome step towards reducing the risk of customers being exposed to dangerous products.
‘The lithium batteries that power these vehicles have failed catastrophically and caused devastating fires. We’re asking people to check whether they have a UPP battery at home. If you do, stop using it right away, and contact the seller.’
Last year the Brigade shared a video of an e-bike bursting into flames at a block of flats in Roehampton to highlight the risks.
The footage can be seen above, but you can read more about the frightening incident here.
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