Huge spike in battery fires sparks warning

Firies are warning shoppers of a significant rise in fires caused by batteries in e-bikes and e-scooters ahead of Christmas.

Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) has reported 180 lithium-ion battery fires this year compared to just 16 in 2021.

Minister for Emergency Services Steph Cooke said the number of recent lithium-ion battery-related fires should serve as an alarm for Christmas shoppers.

"Most of these fires occur when lithium-ion batteries are in the process of charging and overheat, causing an explosion of flames in living rooms or garages," Ms Cooke said.

She said an e-bike battery that caught fire recently almost burnt down a family home in north Sydney.

FRNSW Acting Deputy Commissioner Trent Curtin said cheap and low-quality re-chargeable and disposable batteries can expel molten flammable metal and emit toxic gases when on fire.

"If you are shopping for toys, e-bikes, e-scooters, laptops or power tools that are powered by lithium-ion batteries this Christmas, always ensure you're purchasing a reputable brand from a reputable retailer," he said.

The emergency body is asking people not to over-charge lithium-ion batteries or leave them charging overnight unattended.

It also warns not to leave them on beds, sofas or around highly flammable materials.