London’s spontaneous bus combustion: How is this being allowed to happen?
RHODA WILSON for THE EXPOSE
Why are London’s buses spontaneously bursting into flames? And why are our politicians not addressing the problem?
In the past couple of years, two huge ships carrying thousands of cars have gone up in flames, apparently because of batteries in electric vehicles. A fire on board car carrier Felicity Ace in February 2022 led to the vessel sinking in the Atlantic, along with its cargo of 4,000 vehicles. And cargo ship Fremantle Highway caught fire in the North Sea.
In India, a spate of electric scooters catching fire in early 2022 sparked safety concerns causing buyers to think twice. Electric scooters bursting into flames hasn’t stopped. Fires are so commonplace that The Times of India now have a section dedicated to ‘Electric Scooter Fire News’.
At Luton Airport at least 125 flights were cancelled after a huge fire, which started on level three of the airport’s multi-storey car park. It caused the entire £20 million structure to collapse. Up to 1,500 vehicles were unlikely to be salvageable, according to estimates at the time. Authorities said the blaze “appeared to have been accidental and began in a parked car, believed to be a diesel vehicle.”
Well, not according to one witness, The Telegraph pointed out. The eyewitness managed to snap a picture of the vehicle suspected of causing the fire, which looked very like a Range Rover Evoque. There was none of the thick black smoke you would expect with a diesel fire. Instead, the blaze was focused on the front left seat of the car under which – well, I never! – the lithium-ion battery happens to be located in some hybrid Range Rovers.
Data from the London Fire Brigade for 2019 showed an incident rate of 0.04% for petrol and diesel car fires, while the rate for plug-in vehicles is more than double at 0.1%. But vested interests are creating as much smoke as possible to obscure the cause of these fires. Why? Because meeting the notably insane and economically disastrous net zero target by 2050 is predicated on the UK giving up fossil fuels.
The real danger with electric vehicles is the lithium-ion batteries, which are prone to catching fire unexpectedly or exploding and the ensuing inferno is very hard to put out.
Professor Peter Edwards, chair in inorganic chemistry at the University of Oxford, told The Telegraph: “Lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles can develop unstoppable so-called ‘thermal runaway’ fires which burn uncontrollably.”
“As well as intense heat, during a battery fire, numerous toxic gases are emitted, such as hydrogen cyanide and hydrogen fluoride. The emission of these gases can be a larger threat than the heat generated,” he said.
Prof. Edwards is also raising the alarm about a pending “potential catastrophe” with all the large-scale lithium-ion battery storage sites sprouting up all over the UK, especially on solar farms.
There’s also a looming potential catastrophe in Sadiq Khan’s London bus fleet.
As of 31 March 2023, approximately 56% of London’s bus fleet is “environmentally friendly.” Out of a total bus fleet of 8,643, there are 3,835 hybrid buses, 950 battery electric buses, and 20 hydrogen fuel cell buses operating in London.
Below we have gathered incidences of buses spontaneously bursting into flames during 2022 and 2023. To find these, we conducted an internet search for the term “London bus fire,” while we came across some incidences in other locations along the way, we very much doubt the following is an extensive record of incidences in the past couple of years.
Buses carry many people at any one time, including schoolchildren. As an urgent matter of public safety, we must ask: What is causing these buses to spontaneously burst into flames?
In May 2022, six electric buses were destroyed in a bus garage in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire. At the height of the blaze, eight engines were in attendance and six Transport for London (“TfL”) buses – two hybrid electric and four diesel-powered – were on fire. The first bus caught fire while it was charging, before causing the other five to become engulfed.
According to Hertfordshire Live, an unnamed bus driver said that the fire was believed to have been caused by a battery exploding in one of the electric buses while it was charging – but, the Daily Mail said, this had not yet been confirmed.
Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service said at the time that “The cause and origin of the fire is currently under investigation and is yet to be established.”
After the fire in Potters Bar depot, TfL recalled 90 electric buses. “The precautionary measure has been decided while the company investigates causes of the blaze,” media outlet Sustainable Bus said.
Also in May 2022, Paris’s transport operator withdrew 149 electric buses made by Bolloré Group’s Bluebus from operation after two ignited on separate occasions.
Damaged electric vehicle batteries pose a risk of “thermal runaway” where energy stored in the battery releases rapidly, creating temperatures of up to 400oC.
London bus explosion: Five electric buses go up in a fireball – smoke seen for miles
FIVE electric double decker buses have exploded at the Potters Bar Bus Garage near London. pic.twitter.com/z6mLTswRPq
— Petronilla Husbands (@PetronillaHusb1) May 22, 2022
Dramatic images on social media showed a double-decker bus on fire on Brixton Hill, south London, on 17 June 2022. The driver and passengers left the bus before firefighters arrived. Thankfully, there were no injuries and the blaze was under control in 30 minutes.
Never letting a good crisis go to waste, the Mirror added a climate twist to its reporting of the incident: “The incident comes on what is touted to be the hottest day of the year, with temperatures expected to peak at 34oC this afternoon.”
GB News ran with the same insinuations, implying a link between the ambient temperature and the cause of the blaze in the title of its article: ‘London bus bursts into flames as heatwave causes mayhem on hottest day of year’.
It is not the first time that climate science deniers have used the fabricated “climate change crisis” to explain spontaneous combustion. In July 2021, IFL Science used the dramatic title ‘The UK Is So Hot That A Bus Stop Reportedly Burst Into Flames’ to describe a passenger bus shelter catching fire in Solihull, West Midlands, UK.
IFL Science went on to say: “The extreme heat is leading to some unlikely (and disastrous) events. On 19 July , the powerful sun bearing down on an unsuspecting bus stop in Solihull reportedly caused it to spontaneously burst into flames.”
The Guardian refuted a link between ambient temperature and the cause of the bus bursting into flames on 17 June 2022. “The Guardian understands that the extreme heat in London was not believed to be the cause of the fire,” it said.
London bus passengers managed to escape a large fire that engulfed the rear of a vehicle on Baker Street near Portman Square in Marylebone, London on 10 January 2023.
The fire was believed to have been accidental but the exact cause was recorded as undetermined.
Cars and homes on a residential road in Hackney, east London were left damaged after a school bus for pupils with special needs was engulfed in flames on 20 January 2023.
The children were inside the bus when it caught fire. The bus was carrying three primary school children and was forced to stop after smoke was detected from the front of the vehicle. It was quickly evacuated with no injuries, The Telegraph reported.
The Daily Mail reported that a witness who lived nearby said as soon as the bonnet caught fire, everyone was evacuated off the bus – and she believes people were also evacuated from their houses.
Six other vehicles were also damaged.
White smoke was seen billowing out from a London double-decker bus after it broke down in south London, The Independent reported. The bus was stationed near West Croydon Bus Station when it began to emit smoke onto the street.
A double-decker bus was destroyed by a huge fire on Bradford Broadway, London on 9 October 2023. First Bus said no passengers were on board when the incident started.
A spokesperson said: “One of our buses on the 607 service was involved in a fire incident on the upper deck … We do not know what caused the fire and will assist in the investigation including a review of CCTV footage.”
It’s not only passengers and nearby road users that are in danger from exploding buses.
In October 2023, The Telegraph reported that residents are fighting to block plans to build an electric bus garage under the development of thousands of new flats amid fears battery fires could cause a “volcano.”
Labour-run Barnet Council were in talks with TfL and developer Ballymore about the joint £1.7bn project to build 25 tower blocks on top of a proposed underground electric bus depot in Edgware town centre.
However, Save Our Edgware, a community group, warned that residents would be at “severe risk” from electric vehicle batteries igniting, leading to explosive combustion and multi-vehicle fires.
Other forms of electric-powered transport pose a risk to homes as well. On Monday, the London Fire Brigade had this warning for Christmas:
Why? Because e-bikes and e-scooters also spontaneously burst into flames. The London Fire Brigade warned a few months ago that e-bike fires are up 60% this year. Firefighters have been called to an e-scooter or e-bike fire every two days since the start of 2023. Since 2020, at least 12 people have died and a further 190 have been injured in the UK in suspected e-bike and e-scooter blazes, The Telegraph reported.
In one instance, an e-bike left charging is believed to have caused the house fire that tore through a maisonette in Cambridge, UK, over the summer, killing a mother and her two young children.
On the other side of the pond, firefighters are seeing the same problems. In Montgomery County, Maryland a fire broke out on 28 October 2022, on the 14th floor of the high-rise apartment building called ‘Twin Towers’. (ER: Hmm.) Fire officials said an e-scooter battery malfunctioned while charging.
According to New York City Fire Department in September 2022, electric battery-related fires were up a whopping 233% in two years. The fires have resulted in 163 injuries and 10 deaths, including a 5-year-old girl who was killed in an apartment building fire.
Featured image: The remains of the school bus after the blaze in Hackney on 20 January 2023. Source: The Telegraph
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