‘Unguided metal rocket’: Widow files lawsuit over fatal e-bike battery

Click to play video: 'Fatal e-bike battery fire lawsuit launched by widow'
Fatal e-bike battery fire lawsuit launched by widow
WATCH: We're learning new details about a fatal 2022 Vancouver fire caused by an exploding e-bike battery. As Catherine Urquhart reports, the information comes from court documents filed in a civil suit against the battery manufacturer and other businesses – Feb 2, 2024

A woman who lost her husband during a fire in January 2022 has now filed a lawsuit against an e-bike manufacturer and a battery repair shop after she said an e-bike battery was responsible for the blaze.

The fire broke out in a downtown Vancouver apartment on Jan. 31, 2022, caused by a lithium-ion battery charging in the living room, according to the lawsuit.

Kellyann Sharples’ partner, Tim Lilley, died in the fire.

The battery had been charging for several hours when it began to overcharge and overheat, according to the lawsuit.

That’s when the fire broke out.

The lawsuit states that Lilley heard a bang and left the bedroom to investigate. That is when he yelled at Sharples to get out and she saw the living room was on fire.

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According to the lawsuit, the fire grew rapidly.

“Jets of flaming gas venting from the tops of cells in the E-bike battery turned each into a tiny, unguided metal rocket,” the lawsuit states.

“Ejected from the battery pack by the explosion of neighbouring cells or their own propulsion, these loose cells ricocheted around the room, igniting new fires and spreading the blaze rapidly and erratically, trapping the plaintiff and Mr. Lilley.

“Fueled by the excess energy in the overcharged E-bike battery and by volatile chemicals in it and neighbouring lithium-ion batteries, the fire burned with such intensity that it caused a flashover – a condition in which every exposed, flammable surface in a room ignites simultaneously.”

Click to play video: 'E-battery blamed for another Vancouver fire'
E-battery blamed for another Vancouver fire

Sharples tried to crawl back toward the living room but was driven back by the intense heat, smoke and flaming projectiles, the loose battery cells, which struck her legs and caused burns, the lawsuit states.

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She did escape by shattering the bedroom window and crawling over to a neighbour’s balcony.

Sharples is now suing both the Surrey company that serviced the battery, called Royer Batteries, and the Ontario company that sold the bike and charger — Daymak Inc. — along with the Chinese manufacturer.

She is seeking compensation for loss of financial support related to Lilley’s death and for injuries she suffered in the fire.

“The fire resulted in an overheating of the E-bike battery caused by a defect in its charging system,” the lawsuit states.

Click to play video: 'E-bike battery issue causing fires'
E-bike battery issue causing fires

Last March, three people were injured in a Vancouver apartment building after a fire was believed to have started from an e-bike battery being plugged in.

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In October, Consumer Reports found there had been 75 e-bike fires in New York City in 2021 alone, resulting in 72 injuries and three deaths, while the U.K.’s Evening Standard reports there were at least 130 similar battery fires in London the same year.

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