Advertisement

Video: Dramatic moment firefighters rescue man hanging from window ledge after e-bike fire in Whitechapel

Dramatic footage has shown the moment a man hanging from a window ledge in Whitechapel after an e-bike fire was rescued by firefighters.

The blaze broke out on a third-floor flat on John Fisher Street early on Wednesday, and most of the flat was damaged by smoke and fire.

Although two people managed to escape, two men weren’t able to as the fire blocked their exit - meaning they had to hang out the window and be rescued by firefighters.

The scene of the e-bike fire in Whitechapel (Danny McLaughlin / London Fire Brigade)
The scene of the e-bike fire in Whitechapel (Danny McLaughlin / London Fire Brigade)

Neighbour Danny McLaughlin, who witnessed one of the dramatic rescues unfold, 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.”

The 64-year-old said firefighters quickly arrived and safely brought the man down. One woman was taken to hospital as a precaution for smoke inhalation.

Around 40 firefighters tackled the fire for over an hour before the incident was declared over at 5.54am.

The London Fire Brigade said the blaze is thought to have been accidental and caused by the failure of a lithium battery pack for a converted e-bike that was charging in the hallway.

Smoke coming from the window of the flat (Danny McLaughlin)
Smoke coming from the window of the flat (Danny McLaughlin)

Faulty batteries in e-bikes and e-scooters have been attributed to a surge in fires involving the popular products, with a fire once every two days in 2023 on average.

Borough Commander for Tower Hamlets, Richard Tapp, said it was “sadly yet another example” of the dangers of faulty batteries in e-bikes.

He also raised the dangers of storing the bikes in hallways, as it can block off escape routes if a fire occurs.

The Brigade is running a campaign to highlight the risks and are lobbying for changes to stop poor quality batteries, chargers and conversion kits being sold online.

It comes after the Office for Product Safety & Standards (OPSS) last month took enforcement action against the manufacturer of a particular type of battery, the UPP, after its products were linked to a number of fires in the UK, including at a hotel in Kensington.

Five online marketplaces were ordered to stop selling the battery, including Amazon, AliBaba, and eBay.

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.”