A lithium-ion battery exploded in a restaurant on the bottom floor a Bronx apartment building Saturday morning, fueling yet another dangerous lithium-ion battery fire in New York City.
Local officials determined the culprit battery self-combusted in electric bike or scooter while the device was charging.
Fortunately, only one firefighter suffered minor injuries as crews worked to extinguish the flames of the massive structure fire for nearly three hours.
The fire is the latest in a very disturbing trend. Lithium-ion batteries continue to explode and cause fires that can result in severe injury or death.
First commercialized in 1991, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries revolutionized modern life. Powering everything from cellphones, laptops, and baby monitors to electric cars, hoverboards, bicycles, and scooters, the batteries provide higher power density in lighter packaging. Compared to traditional lead-acid batteries, they charge faster and last longer.
However, lithium-ion batteries have a deadly downside. The batteries are inherently flammable, sensitive to high temperatures, and can overheat, explode, and catch fire.
As micromobility devices—bicycles, scooters, skateboards, and hoverboards—continue to take over streets of American cities demanding for more convenient transportation, the risk posed by the batteries that power raises safety concerns.
Last month, London banned e-scooters on all of its transportation services after a review of e-scooter fires in the city concluded that the incidents were caused by defective lithium-ion batteries.
In New York City alone, e-bikes with lithium-ion batteries caused more than 100 fires in 2021 that left 79 people injured and four dead, including a 9-year-old boy killed in Queens.
Why do lithium-ion batteries overheat, catch fire, or explode?
Unlike traditional lead-acid batteries that have been around for more than a century, lithium-ion batteries run on lithium fuel and are rechargeable. The batteries are made with flammable, liquid electrolyte that can ignite because of overheating or short-circuiting, which can happen when a separator that prevents the battery’s electrodes from touching is damaged.
Lithium-ion battery fires or explosions often result from manufacturing or design flaws. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has conducted more than 60 recalls involving lithium-ion batteries since 2006, nearly all of which were a result of the batteries’ potential to overheat, melt, or explode.
The batteries are designed to be compact and lightweight, which means they are made with thin partitions between cells and a thin out covering. If made too thin, a short circuit can occur and a spark can ignite the highly reactive lithium, or the battery can overheat to the point of producing an explosion. Other defects in the design, materials, and production of the batteries and their chargers can produce the same hazardous result.
What should you do if you or a loved one are injured in a fire or explosion involving a lithium-ion battery?
If you or your loved one have been injured in an accident involving a lithium-ion battery, you may be wondering if the battery was defective and whether there is anything you can do to recover your losses. It is critical that you preserve the damaged product, so that it can be examined for malfunctions and defects. Take photos of the location where the incident occurred, any visible damage, and your injuries.
If a device does malfunction and cause you or your loved one injury, several parties could be liable for the injuries. Manufacturers, retailers, and distributors are just a few of the parties that could be held responsible in a lithium-ion battery case. Attorneys with years of experience in complex cases involving defective products will know how to identify the responsible parties and hold them accountable to achieve the best possible results for you.
Home to dedicated attorneys who have represented hundreds of victims of defective products, The Ammons Law Firm is nationally recognized for its product defect litigation expertise. To learn more, contact The Ammons Law Firm at (281) 801-5617 and request a free consultation.