Recent days have seen two electric buses catch fire in London, raising fears over the vehicles as Transport for London investigate to get to the root of the problem
A fire expert has revealed why Transport for London (TFL) electric vehicles might keep bursting into flames.
Last week, during a school run a bus travelling from Mitcham to Raynes Park in southwest London, was torn apart by a blaze with terrifying images and clips shared on social media. Shockingly, this was followed a day later, by a second bus in the capital going up in flames in North Woolwich, East London, just before 7am on January 12.
TFL are now working with partners to investigate the terrifying fires and fire out what caused them. They said that they had no reason to believe that the fires were linked. But one fire expert has told the Mai l that it could be due to lithium batteries used to power the vehicles. Former firefighter Neil Pedersen said that if the batteries are damaged, the cells could heat up in a “domino effect” which could end in the fire.
Mr Pedersen, chief executive of Fire Containers Limited, told the outlet: “Lithium iron phosphate batteries are predominantly found in the buses in London. There are a number of causes which can lead to a fire on these vehicles. The most common is physical damage to a battery pack. Think of it like a domino effect. You have lots of lithium cells next to each other inside a big battery pack. As one becomes unstable, it heats up and heats up the cell next to it as well and continues throughout the whole battery pack.”
Battery packs are usually covered by an impact cover, preventing damage to it – for example from road debris from underneath. A clip posted after the second recent bus blaze shows the bus ablaze with people being urged to “move back” for their own safety. An image shared just over one hour later shows the burnt-out shell of the bus. Firefighters said no passengers were on the bus when it caught fire and nobody was injured. However, an investigation is ongoing to establish the causes of the blaze.
A London Fire Brigade spokesman said: “We were called at 6.49am today to reports of a bus on fire on Factory Road in North Woolwich. No passengers were on the bus and there have been no reports of any injuries. Firefighters attended and brought the fire under control by 7.55am. One double-decker bus was destroyed by fire. A 25-metre cordon is currently in place as a precaution. The cause of the fire is under investigation.”
Tom Cunnington, TfL’s Head of Buses Business Development, said: “We are working with the operator, GoAhead, and the manufacturer, Alexander Dennis, to investigate the cause of this fire. London’s bus network remains safe to use and we have no reason to suspect that this fire on a hybrid bus was linked to an earlier incident on an electric bus in Wimbledon.
“The bus was out of service when the fire happened and there are no reported injuries. TfL and the bus operators will not hesitate to take action if required to ensure the bus network remains safe.” TFL have been approached for comment.