Ali Miraj 6pm - 9pm
Third electric London bus bursts into flames prompting urgent operator probe just weeks after double-decker blaze
25 January 2024, 13:14 | Updated: 25 January 2024, 13:15
An electric bus has caught fire in London, making it the third to go up in flames this month.
Listen to this article
The single-decker bus caught fire in Putney on Wednesday at around 8:21am.
Footage shared on social media shows the fire tear through the electric vehicle while parked inside a bus garage.
Firefighters were called to the scene after receiving a report and the blaze was extinguished by 9:13am, London Fire Brigade said.
Nobody was inside the bus at the time of the incident.
Around 20 people had been inside the garage building at the time but they were all safely evacuated. There were no reports of any injuries.
But the incident has sparked concern among some after the blaze followed two previous incidents of electric buses catching fire within the last two weeks.
The bus was operated by bus company Go Ahead London and was used on route 265 - thought to be the same operators of two previous buses that caught fire earlier this month.
GoAhead has since launched a “precautionary fleet check” of its 380 electric buses.
An electric bus was on fire at Putney garage.😱😱Posted by Juliet Albores on Wednesday, January 24, 2024
In a message to staff, the company said it is “in the initial stages of an investigation” while noting that incidents such as these are “very rare”.
London Fire Brigade said of the blaze: “Firefighters tackled a fire involving an electric bus at a bus garage on Chelverton Road in Putney yesterday.
“Part of the bus was damaged by fire. Around 20 people left the building before firefighters arrived and there were no reports of any injuries.
“The Brigade's 999 Control Officers received nine calls about the fire. The Brigade was called at 0821 and the fire was extinguished by 0913.
“Two fire engines from Fulham and Tooting Fire Stations attended the scene. The cause of the fire is under investigation.”
A spokesman for TfL said: “Putney bus garage was partially closed following a fire on a bus. No one was on board the bus at the time and it was extinguished quickly. An investigation into the incident is now taking place.”
On January 11, an electric double-decker bus went up in flames on Wimbledon Hill Road, south west London in the early morning. Three fire engines attended the scene before it was extinguished.
Just a day later on January 12, a hybrid model bus, caught fire in north Woolwich, east London.
There were no reported injuries in either incidents.
They were both different models to the bus that caught fire in Putney, but are believed to have all been operated by GoAhead.
TfL said at the time that all electric buses on route 200 were being “temporarily withdrawn” by operator GoAhead.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has since faced calls to address the issue due to concerns over the safety of the buses.
Meanwhile, former firefighter and now chief executive of Fire Containers, Neil Pederson told Metro.co.uk of the January 12 outbreak: “It's most likely that today's electric vehicle bus fire in London was caused by an electrical fault and may not be linked to the lithium batteries if the fire started at the back of the bus.
“This is because lithium batteries on electric buses are on the top of the front of the bus rather than the back. But as the sale of electric vehicles continues to increase, fires like these are only going to become more common.
“On average it takes firefighters four hours to extinguish EV fires and this is because of their lithium batteries and on average costs £1million an hour each time traffic is held up because of a burning vehicle.”
He added, however, that electric buses are “generally safe” but when they do catch fire they tend to attract a lot of media attention.
“These buses have been in London since 2019 and we haven't had that many incidents. Because they are electric buses and they are new technology, they are getting a lot of attention,” he added.