CARLSBAD — An e-scooter battery is suspected of causing an early morning house fire on March 7 near La Costa and Rancho Santa Fe avenues, city officials said.
According to Carlsbad Assistant Fire Marshal Darcy Davidson, the fire started at 5:48 a.m. in the garage of a home on Levante Street near La Costa Heights Elementary School. Flames extended from the garage into a portion of the home. A family of two adults, two children and a dog was displaced due to the fire. No injuries were reported.
While the fire and its cause remain under investigation, a city spokesperson said officials suspect a lithium-ion battery charging an electric scooter in the garage was the source of the blaze. If confirmed, it would be the second battery-related fire in Carlsbad in the past week.
At approximately 11 a.m. on Feb. 26, a fire broke out at the Villa Loma Apartments on Cassia and El Camino roads after an e-bike battery apparently ignited inside the apartment. No injuries were reported and damages were estimated to be $7,000.
“There’s a lot of common things on how those fires might be starting,” Davidson said independently of the recent fires. “There are common tips to change some of our purchasing or charging habits to make sure we’re safer.”
According to Davidson, there are growing concerns nationwide with lithium-ion batteries causing fires while charging e-bikes and other electric devices due to “thermal runaway,” a mechanical or electrical short circuit causing the battery to overheat.
When it a battery cell heats up, gas is released, heating the other cells inside the battery and leading to a fire.
“A lot of times a lithium battery, like in a bike battery, you’ll see these mini explosions that are just popping as each of those cells are exploding and heating the cell next to it and the fire propagates that way,” Davidson said. “Sometimes it’s a manufacturing defect and sometimes its batteries that are overcharged.”
The Carlsbad Police Department recommends only charging devices while present at the home and never charge devices overnight, which can lead to a device continuing to charge and overheating.
Any changes in a battery’s function, such as warmth, odors or a change in size are signs for a replacement battery.
“We see a lot of fires from overcharging the device,” Davidson said. “You should only use a battery that comes from that same manufacturer for that same device. You don’t want to mix-and-match batteries. The same is true for charging cables.”