Grieving father calls for urgent e-bike safety measures after fatal blaze

12 June 2024, 00:04

Scott Peden, holding a photo of his children Lilly, 8, and Oliver, 4. (Scott Peden/PA)
Scott Peden, holding a photo of his children Lilly, 8, and Oliver, 4. (Scott Peden/PA). Picture: PA

Scott Peden lost his partner Gemma, 31, and their children Lilly, eight, and Oliver, four, during a fire caused by an e-bike battery bought online.

A grieving father has called for urgent e-bike safety measures one year after losing his partner and two children in a fire.

Scott Peden, 30, from Cambridge, lost his partner Gemma, 31, and their children Lilly, eight, and Oliver, four, during a fire caused by an e-bike battery bought online.

The family’s two dogs also died in the blaze, which left Scott in a coma for a month and with prolonged injuries.

Mr Peden, backed by the charity Electrical Safety First, is calling on all political parties to commit to introducing safety laws to prevent further tragedies.

He said: “June marks one year since I lost my partner and two children in an e-bike fire at my home last summer and life hasn’t been the same since. I feel like my life has ended and I don’t know how to move on.

“Before the fire, I had no idea about the dangers of these lithium-ion batteries. I bought my battery online and just assumed it would be safe, I never imagined it could be so dangerous.

“The battery exploded under my stairs, whilst my family was asleep. Flames were coming up the stairs like a flamethrower. The fire and smoke filled the house up in seconds. I told them to jump but they couldn’t get out. I’ve lost everything from that one night and my heart has been left broken.

“If my story doesn’t show the desperate need for a change in regulation, then I don’t know what will. I’m urging all the political parties to come together to tackle the issue of e-bike fires so that no one has to go through what I did. My life has been ruined but I can help to save someone else’s.”

Electrical Safety First has called for the introduction of independent third-party certification for e-bikes, e-scooters and their batteries.

At present, manufacturers can self-declare their e-bikes and batteries are safe.

The recommendations were first outlined last year in the charity’s report “Battery Breakdown”, the first report of its kind to assess the growing risk of e-bike and e-scooter fires and propose solutions to reduce the risk to lives.

Similar requirements are already in place for other high-risk products, such as fireworks and heavy machinery.

Electrical Safety First chief executive Lesley Rudd said: “Right across the country people are dying because of these fires, and people like Scott are left living with the grief and devastation.

“Legislation is desperately needed and time is of the essence. We owe it to those who have lost their lives to ensure we do all we can to prevent further tragedies.

“All political parties must to come together to tackle this issue and we want to work with any future government to address the problem as a priority. They will have the power to save lives and prevent future heartache.”

Last year, 11 people lost their lives to fires involving e-bikes and e-scooters, with hundreds injured as a result of the fires caused by the lithium-ion batteries.

Other victims include Sofia Duarte, who died in London on New Year’s Day 2023 at the age of 21, when a converted e-bike caught fire during the night. Sofia was unable to escape the building with the fire blocking her escape route.

Alda Simoes, a friend of Ms Duarte, said: “We are out of time to save our beautiful Sofia and everyone that has passed away like her. But we will do everything in our power to prevent others going through what Sofia’s mum, me, family and friends are going through.

“This problem is a public safety issue that needs action from all political parties to introduce new measures to tackle the increasingly problem of e-bike battery fires. The number of these fires caused by these batteries keeps rising and we urgently need intervention to protect the public.

“Change needs to happen. There are people dying, what are we waiting for? Sofia’s death must have a purpose. If nothing changes, her death will be in vain. I am urging the next Government and all political parties to please, help us create change.”

On March 21, fire crews were called to an exploding e-bike on a train platform in Sutton, London, with dramatic footage showing flaming battery cells being projected from the battery across the platform.

Fire crews in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, were called to a property fire on April 6 following a severe fire that resulted in one person being taken to hospital with serious injuries. The cause was deemed to be a charging e-bike. Five others suffered minor injuries.

Four children were among six people taken to hospital due to smoke inhalation following an e-bike fire near Croydon at the beginning of April that caused serious damage to their maisonette, destroying the staircase between the first and second floor.

By Press Association