Lithium-Ion Battery Named Likely Cause of Devastating 2023 Access Self Storage Fire in Byfleet, England

May 21, 2024

2 Min Read

A report newly released by the South East Fire Investigation Group revealed that the May 2023 fire that destroyed Access Self Storage in Byfleet, England, was probably triggered by a faulty battery. The heavily redacted summary stated that the cause was a defective Lithium-ion cell inside a unit on the second floor of the building, according to the source.

The report also concluded that the fire spread rapidly to combustible materials within the space before extending to others. The defective cell may have caused a thermal runaway, which reached additional lithium-ion batteries in one of the units. This is an accelerating increase in temperature caused by chemical reactions that can “lead to fire, explosion ... and unpredictable fire behavior,” according to the National Fire Chiefs Council, which provides fire services across the United Kingdom. 

Surrey Fire & Rescue Service said it couldn’t comment on the report due to potential legal cases, the source reported. 

After the fire, Access Self Storage received more than 800 calls and 5,200 emails from customers, a spokesperson said. The company’s insurers have processed 80% of claim forms received and settled 73%. 

“Surrey Fire & Rescue Service concluded that all of our processes and policies were satisfactory, and Access Self Storage was not found to be at fault for the fire,” the spokesperson said. 

The South East Fire Investigation Group is a collaboration between fire and rescue services in this region of England, particularly Surrey. Comprising trained investigators, the alliance aims to determine the causes and contributing factors around fire-related events, with a goal of establishing prevention and safety protocols. 

The risk posed by lithium batteries has been a recent topic of focus in the self-storage industry, as evidenced by this video released by management expert Carol Mixon of SkilCheck Services Inc. on Self-Storage TV, which is hosted by the Inside Self-Storage (ISS) brand. 

Source: BBC, Faulty Battery Link to Storage Unit Fire - Report 

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