E-bike catches fire beside Choa Chu Kang MRT station; 2nd incident involving motorised devices in 2 days

A GrabFood delivery bag can be seen mounted on the e-bike. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - An electric bicycle caught fire beside Choa Chu Kang MRT station on Friday morning (Jan 3), in the second incident involving motorised devices in two days.

Videos posted online of the incident show the e-bike engulfed in flames. Multiple small exploding sounds could be heard, with small pieces of debris flung from the burning e-bike.

A GrabFood delivery bag can be seen mounted on the e-bike.

No one was reported to be injured in the incident.

The retailer of the e-bike has alleged that the fire was due to the bike's owner installing an "unauthorised external battery".

In response to queries, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it responded to the incident at 15 Choa Chu Kang Avenue 4 at about 10.45am.

"The fire, involving a power-assisted bicycle belonging to a member of the public, was extinguished by an SMRT staff member using a fire extinguisher prior to SCDF's arrival," it said.

SCDF is investigating the cause of the fire.

Retailer Mobot said in a Facebook post that the e-bike belonged to one of its customers.

It said the e-bike model was one that had passed the required tests and possessed the necessary safety certification.

Mr Ifrey Lai, the shop's managing director, told The Straits Times that it has contacted the customer for details of the incident.

"This fire incident was caused by the external (illegally modified) battery, which was attached onto the rear rack, catching fire while the rider was collecting the food order at a nearby restaurant," he said.

"We urge all e-bike riders to follow the Land Transport Authority's rules and not make any form of modification, especially on electrical components and battery."

ST has reached out to Grab for comment on the issue.

The incident was the second involving motorised devices in two days, after another fire involving a PMD outside a Housing Board flat on the ninth storey of Block 409 Bedok North Avenue 2.

SCDF told Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao that preliminary investigations found the cause of the fire was due to a PMD that was being charged.

The paper reported that the owner of the PMD had been using the device to carry out food deliveries.

The two fires come amid a push by the authorities and food delivery firms to help riders switch from e-scooters to other modes of transport.

After mounting safety concerns triggered a ban of e-scooters from footpaths in early November 2019, the Government and the three major food delivery firms jointly launched a $7 million e-scooter trade-in grant.

Under the scheme, eligible riders can trade in their e-scooters for up to $1,000 each to switch to electric bicycles or personal mobility aids.

Illegal modifications had been flagged by experts as a major reason behind the fire safety concerns that had plagued personal mobility devices such as e-scooters in recent years.

There were 73 PMD-related fires in the first nine months of 2019, the SCDF said last month.

This number is almost equal to the 74 fires involving these devices for the whole of 2018. More of such fires have happened since September.

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