London Fire Brigade

Toy car blaze sparks Brigade safety warning

23 January 2015

The London Fire Brigade has issued an urgent warning to parents after a new fire report released today revealed a battery driven toy car caused a potentially life threatening fire.

The report by the Brigade’s fire investigation experts found the remote controlled car burst into flames last month at a flat on Dundalk Road, New Cross, because it was being charged with the wrong charger. An adult and child who were asleep at the time were saved from serious injury by their working smoke alarm.

Lab testing revealed damage to the car’s body was confined to the immediate area around the charging point and investigators believe a charger with a high voltage output was being used instead of the charger supplied by the manufacturer.

Fire investigator Watch Manager, Owen Neale, said: "A lot of children will have received electrical toys and computers as Christmas gifts and while it may seem ok to use a different charger with the same connector, you could unknowingly be overcharging your device.

"Fortunately, this family were woken by their smoke alarm sounding, but people should never leave items on charge over night or when they are sleeping. As with all rechargeable electrical equipment, it's vitally important parents make sure the correct type of charger is used to prevent fires which can be serious and could even result in death."

Just months ago the Brigade issued a safety warning about e-cigarettes following a flat fire in Barking caused by an e-cig exploding whilst being charged with an incompatible charger.

Firefighters have attended a number of incidents involving e-cigarettes in recent months, including a fire in a school caretaker’s office that is believed to have started when it was charging through a USB port with the wrong connector.

But it is not just incorrect chargers the Brigade is concerned about. In September, the 'iFake' campaign was launched to highlight the dangers of using counterfeit Apple iPhone chargers. Brigade investigators carried out a range of tests on a number of widely available counterfeit chargers and many were found to put users at risk of electrocution, burns or even a serious house fire.

Watch Manager Neale added: "Although one charger might work with multiple electrical items, it may be of a higher voltage or current than recommended for your device.

"It is crucial people only use genuine chargers supplied by the manufacturer with their electrical goods. Repeated use with the wrong charger can put significant pressure on the charging system, putting you and your family at risk of a serious fire in your home.”