Firefighters saved a home at Mona Vale after a fire completely engulfed and destroyed the garage.

Just before 8.15am this morning (Monday, 16 January), Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Mona Vale Station responded to multiple Triple Zero (000) calls about a fire occurring in the garage of a residential house at Whitney Street, Mona Vale.

It is understood the owners of the home were away, but there was one occupant inside the residence at the time of the fire, a female who was house sitting and minding the owner’s dog. The woman was alerted to the fire by strange hissing and popping noises coming from the ground floor garage.

Upon investigation, she saw an e-bike alight, and smoke alarms were set off. The woman grabbed the dog, left the property, and waited outside on the road for emergency services. Concerned neighbours gathered on the street as the fire firmly took hold in the garage and threatened the upper level, charring the two-storey house.

Arriving on scene just after 8.20am, firefighters from Mona Vale Station in breathing apparatus made an immediate attack on the fire with two hose lines and called for urgent backup. FRNSW crews from Avalon, Narrabeen, Dee Why and Forestville were deployed along with a ladder truck from Glebe Station.

Mona Vale garage fire

The immediate intervention of the Mona Vale firefighters was crucial in stopping the spread of fire into the upper level of the residence. Within five minutes they had suppressed the spread of fire and just after 8.30am, they had established full fire control, protecting the second storey of the house.

Power was disconnected from the property by Ausgrid and firefighters set about checking for any spread of fire through wall cavities and the ceiling of the garage. The fire was declared fully extinguished shortly after 9.00am, with efforts switching to minimising the effects of water damage from the hoses used to put out the fire and ventilating smoke from inside the home.

NSW Ambulance paramedics attended the scene and assessed the female occupant, a woman in her early 20s, but she sustained no injuries or ill-effects from smoke inhalation and was not taken to hospital. The dog is also understood to have escaped unharmed.

Mona Vale Station Officer David Norman said he was extremely pleased with the response of his crew.

“Considering the intensity of the fire when we arrived, the crew did an outstanding job of containing it to the garage of the home,” said SO Norman.

A spokesperson for FRNSW said the fire was caused by the lithium-ion batteries from an e-bike that was in the garage catching alight. Just prior to Christmas, FRNSW warned about the dangers relating to lithium-ion battery-powered items.

In 2022, FRNSW says it observed a significant rise in fires related to lithium-ion batteries, most often in small, portable devices like e-bikes and e-scooters.

NSW Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience Steph Cooke said the increase in lithium-ion battery-related fires, from 16 in 2021 to over 180 in 2022, should serve as an alarm for households.

Steph Cooke

Steph Cooke

“Most of these fires occur when lithium-ion batteries are in the process of charging and overheat, causing an explosion of flames in living rooms or garages.

“Just a few weeks ago, an e-bike battery caught fire and almost burnt down a family home in Manly. A brick wall was the only barrier that prevented flames spreading from the garage to the remainder of the house.

“Please treat lithium-ion battery-powered products with care, don’t leave them on charge for extended periods of time, and remember to call Triple Zero (000) in an emergency situation,” said Minister Cooke.

FRNSW is warning people:

  • Not to over-charge lithium-ion batteries or leave them charging overnight unattended
  • Not to charge lithium-ion batteries on beds, sofas or around highly flammable and insulating materials
  • Always use compliant and approved charging equipment for lithium-ion batteries
  • Avoid dropping, crushing or piercing the lithium-ion battery cells
  • Store lithium-ion batteries in a cool, dry area away from combustible materials, and larger devices like e-bikes and gardening tools should be stored outside of bedrooms and living spaces
  • Not to charge or use lithium-ion batteries that show signs of damage
  • To properly dispose of used lithium-ion batteries

More information about the dangers of lithium-ion batteries and how they catch fire is available at the FRNSW website.

Images: Northern Beaches Advocate

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