After subway e-bike blaze, Toronto fire chief shares tips to avoid battery fires (CBC News Toronto – January 2, 2023)

Lithium ion battery fires increased nearly 90% in 2023: Toronto Fire

Toronto’s fire chief is sharing safety tips to avoid fires sparked by lithium ion batteries after a subway train was evacuated when an e-bike caught fire on Sunday.

A man suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the fire at Sheppard-Yonge subway station around 3 p.m. Sunday, which filled several subway cars with smoke. No one else was injured and trains were moving through the station again about an hour later.

The fire was filmed by bystanders and shared on social media. Lithium ion batteries are rechargeable batteries that pack enough energy to power small electric vehicles. Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg told reporters Tuesday that the battery ignited into a “significant and aggressive fire” only seconds after it started to emit visible gasses, which is typical of the battery type.

Pegg says fires started by lithium ion batteries increased significantly in 2023. In 2022, there were 29 fires in Toronto started by lithium ion batteries, in 2023 that number increased to 55 — a nearly 90 per cent increase. He noted the batteries are safe when used properly, but their failure can pose an immediate risk to people in the area.

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