Rafiq Shaikh, Mandvi fire station officer, told TOI: “While the battery was being charged, sparks started flying due to the charging cable and the battery got involved. Prima facie, the cause appears to be a short-circuit.”
There were five people in the first-floor flat in the two-storey Ahmed building at the time of the incident who ran out immediately on noticing the sparks. The flat was burnt by the time the fire was extinguished at 12.48pm. Around eight to 10 people were brought down from the building using a fire ladder as the staircase was filled with smoke.
“We were informed that some of these senior citizens were asthma and tuberculosis patients and were having extreme difficulty in breathing, considering that the smoke had spread throughout the building. Some tried to escape making use of the staircase but were unable to do so. We later rescued them safely,” he added.
Battery explosions have been devastating and to prevent such untoward incidents, there is a need for strict implementation ofgovernment SOP for electric vehicle charging. It should be done in a specially earmarked area in housing societies with due precautions. There is also a need for the government to create more public awareness about the new SOP.
Kishore Jain, owner of the gutted flat, said he had purchased an electric bike six months ago. “I had kept the battery for charging. Never in the past did it give any indication that it would cause sparks. There were five people in the house when the fire started but they all ran out quickly,” he said.
It may be recalled that a seven-year-old child had died of serious burns after the battery of his father’s e-scooter charging in their living room in Vasai exploded on September 23. Police had said overheating of the battery could have caused the explosion and subsequent fire.
The government’s latest standard operating procedure (SOP) for the safety of EV charging states that for e-scooters with detachable and portable batteries, owners will not use household 15A/3 pin switch sockets. It also emphasises that e-scooters cannot be taken to flats or floors for the purpose.
In the wake of recent fire incidents, EV experts told TOI on Friday there was a need to distribute the SOP to every housing society so people are made aware of the rules and take precautions. Kaustubh Gosavi, consultant (sustainable cities and transport), WRI India, said that the Mumbai EV cell was working with the registrar of societies to create awareness in buildings.
Meanwhile, early on Friday, a fire erupted in five cloth godowns on LBS Road in Kurla around 4am. Civic officials said the blaze was confined to electric wiring, plywood and stocks of wood in a few ground-floor stores. It was extinguished around 11.20am.