Gulf Islands Driftwood
Voice of the Southern Gulf Islands

Electric bike ignites structure fire

Salt Spring Fire-Rescue crews spent the last hours of the Labour Day long weekend putting out a structure fire on Rainbow Road.

Soaring weekend temperatures and extra dry conditions were likely factors in the incident, which started sometime after 8 p.m. when the occupant of a small cabin was working on his electric bike.

Cabin tenant Hugh Pomeroy is a chef at Meadowbrook and also has a sideline building electric bikes. He said although the lithium batteries are usually quite safe, they can short if pressure is put on them. This happened without him noticing as he was working on the bike inside.

“It happened very very quickly. It only took five seconds for the house to start to burn,” Pomeroy said, adding lithium batteries don’t require oxygen to burn.

Pomeroy took the bike outside immediately but the battery had fallen out. The flames quickly ignited his bed, which was close by.

Salt Spring Fire-Rescue incident commander Lt. Colby Sawchuk said around two dozen firefighters responded to the 8:20 p.m. call-out and stayed on scene until midnight. Thanks to an aggressive, quick attack and interior operations, they prevented the fire from spreading. They saved the structure, but the interior was completely destroyed by fire and smoke, Sawchuk reported.

“The property owners were there and hosed down the outside to make sure the fire didn’t spread into the bush, which helped a lot,” Sawchuk said.

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In other fire news, the latest Salt Spring Fire-Rescue crew members to be deployed to wildfire suppression in the B.C. Interior were released and returned safely home to Salt Spring on Monday. Firefighters Colin McDougall and Alex Reid were the fifth local team to assist the province. They were sent to the Sheridan Lake area on Aug. 31.

For more on this story, see the Sept. 6, 2017 Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper or subscribe online.

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