Lithium battery explosion in electric bike to blame for house fire in Glendale

Glendale fire says a lithium battery inside a bike exploded in the garage, leaving the family with limited time to act.
Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 10:03 PM MST
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GLENDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Firefighters responding to a home explosion this week in Glendale say lithium batteries are to blame. Lithium batteries are in many of the devices we use, from cars to cell phones to toys. “I was hearing pops and explosions. I live like three houses down so I heard it. I was going to the gym and next thing I know there’s a burst of flames. Black smoke is going into the air,” said neighbor Marcus Kidd.

The terrifying video was the result of an explosion inside one Glendale home. The cause? Glendale fire said it was the result of an electric bike. They believe the lithium battery inside exploded, leaving the family with limited time to act. “It escalated very quickly, within five minutes it was a full blown, black smoke fire,” said Tim Matthews, a neighbor. “To find out it was a bike is scary,” Kidd added.

In a video taken by a neighbor, you can see one of the seven family members who live there sprinting out of the home. “Next thing you know they were trying to grab anything they could out then they were told to stop going through the house,” Kidd said.

After firefighters arrived and got the fire under control, another lithium battery belonging to the family exploded in the driveway. “The second one, as you said, they were trying to get that one. I was right there when it happened. To see it actually explode was kind of scary knowing that anyone could be riding it,” said Kidd.

This incident is now making neighbors nervous, taking a hard look at their electronic devices with lithium batteries. “That’s kinda crazy because there’s a lot of kids. We are right by an elementary school and just to know something like that could happen. And we don’t know when it could happen, it’s kinda scary to have a bike like that,” said Kidd.

Lithium batteries are in everyday items ranging from cell phones and laptops to vape pens, e-bikes and cars. “One thing that is important that we always recommend is keep these away from anything that can catch fire,” said Phoenix Fire Capt. Todd Keller.

Phoenix fire warns others always to read the manufacturer labels on their electronic devices and follow all instructions. “There are signs of a defective battery. Something that can go wrong with this is if there is some kind of odor coming from it, a change of color, a change in shape. Are they making any kind of odd noises? At this point, do not use that battery,” Keller said.