E-bicycle battery catches fire in UW-Madison dorm

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 5:02 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A student quickly put out a fire after their e-bicycle went up in flames in a UW-Madison dorm room Tuesday night.

The Madison Fire Department was dispatched to Cole Residence Hall shortly after 7:30 p.m. after receiving a report of a battery fire in a dorm room. A student quickly grabbed a fire extinguisher and put out the fire before officials arrived.

The student said their battery was stored in a box when it caught fire and was not plugged into a bicycle, nor was it being charged at the time.

Firefighters were unable to determine the cause of the fire. The model number was untraceable due to the damage, fire officials said.

The Madison Fire Department reminds consumers to take safety precautions when using lithium-ion batteries.

  • Only use devices, batteries, and charging equipment listed by a nationally-recognized testing lab.
  • Only use the battery, and its charger that were designed for the device.
  • Avoid charging a device, or its battery after it is fully charged.
  • Store e-bikes, e-scooters, and batteries away from exit doors and anything that can catch fire.
  • Stop using equipment if its battery gives off an odd smell, changes color, gets too hot, changes shape, leaks, smokes, or doesn’t keep a charge.
  • Never throw lithium-ion batteries in the trash. Recycling is the best option.
  • Repairs should only be done by a qualified professional.

“As these devices get cheaper and get manufactured in places that don’t do regular testing on their battery processes, some batteries are not underwriters’ laboratory tested, so they’re not tested for quality,” said MFD firefighter Cameron Gasaway.

He says a good way to ensure the device is properly tested is to look for the U-L Labs label on the product.

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