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Thousands of liters of water needed: the fire brigade has to immerse a burning e-bike in a container

Batteries for e-bikes occasionally catch fire again and again. In order to be able to fight the fire, however, alternative extinguishing methods must be used.

Kassel / Stuttgart – An electric cargo bike caught fire in a bicycle shop in Stuttgart last Monday (13.09.2021). The trigger was the battery, which caught fire while charging. The fire brigade went out to extinguish the bike.

As the police announced, a technical defect seems to have ignited the three-wheeled cargo bike. At the time, this was in a store room in the shop. Alarmed forces finally took the bike outdoors. There was so much smoke that the building opposite had to be ventilated. There were no injuries. This is reported by the news portal Focus Online.

E-cargo bike catches fire: emergency services use unusual extinguishing methods

The street on which the bicycle shop is located had to be completely closed for use. Furthermore, the fire brigade approached with respiratory protection, since battery fires produce highly toxic and harmful gases, and used a rather unusual method for extinguishing the fire: the e-bike was put in a closed container. Such a process is also used, among other things, for burning electric cars and hybrid vehicles.

As a spokesman for the city of Stuttgart reported, the emergency services used the transport container of the cargo bike to help. This is about half filled with water in order to be able to cool the battery of the chassis. In the end, around three thousand liters of water were required for this, “because the box body was not completely leak-proof and the fire department had to keep topping up water,” said the spokesman. It took two and a half hours for the fire to be completely extinguished, the spokesman said.

Frequent fires in e-cars – and e-bikes: Burning batteries are so dangerous

Battery fires in electronic vehicles therefore not only release highly toxic and dangerous fumes, but also require enormous water consumption. For comparison: a car with a combustion engine needs around 500 liters of water for extinguishing work and, according to the report, can be extinguished in a relatively short time – according to fire service experts, 10,000 liters are required for an electric car. In addition, the battery must then be monitored for 72 hours, as it could ignite again in a matter of seconds, according to the report. Fires in e-cars therefore mean a lot of work for the fire service.

The fire risk for e-vehicles with lithium batteries is not much greater than that for cars with diesel or gasoline drives, apart from the higher extinguishing effort. In the case of electronic bicycles, however, this is different, since conventional bicycles, such as a Dutch bike, cannot burn. There are repeated reports of burning batteries in e-bikes, some of which can have significant effects. The cases could increase in the future – despite everything, the Greens want to promote the electric cargo bikes with a billion euros.

However, owners of such bikes should charge them outdoors and not in garages, summer houses or basements. In the case of e-cars, underground garages and depots pose a particular risk. As a fire protection expert explained, the spread of the fire is much more likely due to the small distance to other vehicles and extinguishing it is also much more complicated. (Alina Schröder)

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