E-bike left charging at void deck causes fire

Incident comes two weeks after blaze engulfed fourth-floor flat in same Boon Lay housing block

Photos posted on social media show the burnt-out electric bicycle at the void deck, and the flames that had engulfed it.
Photos posted on social media show the burnt-out electric bicycle at the void deck, and the flames that had engulfed it.PHOTOS: PATRICK TAY/FACEBOOK, GARNELL GLENN BERNARD/FACEBOOK

An electric bicycle left charging at a void deck caused a fire at Block 191 Boon Lay Drive last Saturday, barely two weeks after a blaze engulfed a flat in the same block.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) told The Straits Times yesterday that the fire was extinguished by members of the public using buckets of water. "There were no reported injuries," it said, adding that around 20 people evacuated themselves from the block.

Mr Patrick Tay, an MP for West Coast GRC, said in a Facebook post last Saturday that the fire, which was reported around midday, was caused by a personal mobility device.

He also praised the efforts of the residents who helped put out the fire and said no flats were affected.

Facebook user Garnell Glenn Bernard, one of those who put out the fire, said the residents' efforts were in line with Singapore's "kampung spirit". He added that he hoped the person responsible would be "dealt with accordingly".

Chinese-language newspaper Shin Min Daily News reported that a 36-year-old factory worker who gave her name as Amani admitted that her 17-year-old son owned the electric bike.

Madam Amani told Shin Min that she had not been able to pay the household power bill and when her son found that an electrical socket at the block's void deck was not locked, he went down to charge the bike.

The report added that Madam Amani, a single mother, estimated she has to pay the town council $3,000 for the electrical cable repair work and repainting of walls.


She said she may have to seek help from the MP as she is facing financial difficulties.

On July 15, six people were injured and about 100 residents were evacuated after a fire broke out in a fourth-floor unit of the block. The cause of that fire is under investigation.

Fires linked to mobility devices have been increasing.

There were 31 people injured in 36 residential fires involving such devices reported in the first half of this year, up from 11 injured in 23 fires in the same period last year, the SCDF said.

It added that 54 reported fires - including non-residential ones - involved these devices from January to last month, well up on the 24 in the same period last year.

Most of these fires involved lithium-ion batteries and occurred during charging or shortly after charging, the SCDF said.

The Land Transport Authority is reviewing whether to bring forward a ban on all personal mobility devices that do not have a certification that addresses the fire and electrical safety aspect.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2019, with the headline 'E-bike left charging at void deck causes fire'. Subscribe