The dangers of rechargeable batteries trigger another warning from first responders after a recent fire involving batteries was started in a Downtown Eastside apartment.
Crews were called to three separate fires at neighborhood ORS on Thursday.
One fire occurred on East Hastings and Columbia streets, the second on West Pender and Hamilton streets and the third on Abbott and Water streets, according to Vancouver Fire Deputy Chief Matthew Trudeau.
“Crews were able to assist in its final extinguishment but encountered a number of batteries. The source of the fire was a rechargeable battery that was either for an electric bicycle or an electric scooter,” Trudeau said.
“Half of fire deaths last year were directly associated with rechargeable batteries.”
While crews say the fires resulted in severe burns on at least one callout, no word on whether that involved the occupants or the unit itself.
It comes just as the BC government announces BC’s new e-bike rebate program, which allows residents to get up to $1,400 off the purchase of electric bikes. an electric bicycle according to their income.
According to the website, you’ll need to provide a statement of last year’s tax income, get an endorsement, buy a bike that costs at least $2,000, and submit your receipts to claim reimbursement.
The website also warns people not to use aftermarket, low cost, counterfeit, or refurbished e-bike batteries and to only charge your e-bike battery with the charger provided by the manufacturer.
Local bike shop owner Simon Coutts says the site does not yet specify which retailers will be eligible and says bikes and batteries that are not certified in Canada can be a recipe for disaster.
“If something really happens where it catches fire or they have a big problem, then yeah, it’s buyer beware,” Coutts warns.
He says you just have to look at the “hoverboard” craze a few years ago and how it happened.
“Hoverboards are not actually sold. You can’t find them anymore. The reason is that they came, they flooded the market, and then they got into a lot of trouble,” Coutts explained.
“They are very dangerous. People have left them charging overnight and things are happening.
Coutts thinks the program won’t dramatically increase demand for e-bikes, but says there is a local appetite for people to get an e-bike as an alternative to driving for their daily commute.
“I think it would be more for a commuter. Someone who wants an alternate mode of transportation instead of driving to work,” Coutts explained.
“[They] you don’t have to pay for gas, you don’t have to wait in traffic jams. They just have to take the bike paths to and from work. I already have many clients who do.
The program will open on June 1.
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