A deadly yacht fire aboard a 70-foot Viking is believed to be caused by lithium-ion batteries.
Lithium-ion batteries are believed to be the cause of a deadly yacht fire aboard a 70-foot Viking that occurred on July 26 at a Florida Keys marina. The fire claimed the life of 51-year-old Linda Vella of St. Petersburg, Florida, and critically injured her husband Michael Kenneth Robson, 58, and son Anthony Joseph Vella, 21.
Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay, whose deputies responded to the fire, told The Keys Citizen that he believes the battery of an e-bike, along with tragic circumstances, caused the fire on the vessel.
Ramsay and investigators believe the e-bike and its battery fell into the water earlier in the day of the fire, according to The Keys Citizen’s report. After retrieval of the bike, it was parked on the dock, but the battery was removed and placed on a wooden cabinet inside the vessel. The cabinet also contained USCG-required safety flares, which were ignited after the wooden cabinet caught on fire due to the battery, according to the report.
Lithium-ion battery related yacht fires have been increasing in recent years, with toys and other devices on board yachts being powered by them. These batteries are particularly dangerous due to the nature of how they combust, which includes thermal runway, the process in which they burn. Saltwater exposure can also cause a chemical reaction in lithium-ion batteries which creates a high fire risk.
Increased lithium-ion battery fires have prompted The United Kingdom’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to release new fire safety and storage guidelines of small electric powered craft on yachts. These fires have also become a reoccurring topic among seminars in the yachting industry, as regulators, insurers, and manufacturers work towards solutions.
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