Disabled warned: scooters may burst into flames

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Electric scooters used by the elderly and disabled could spontaneously combust because of a problem with the wiring.

Three of the most popular types of battery-powered vehicles could catch fire and have been the subject of urgent safety warnings by an official government watchdog.

The risk from the scooters is made worse if they are loaded with shopping, stall against a kerb, or are used to climb steep hills. A fault means that the main battery cable can heat up and ignite.

Already two scooters are known to have caught fire - with one disabled man in Wolverhampton struggling to get free after flames began billowing from the back of his vehicle. Neil Jordan, who has cerebral palsy, struggled to escape as his mobility scooter burst into flames in a shopping centre. He was alerted by a pedestrian who warned him that flames were engulfing the back of his vehicle.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued an urgent warning to owners of certain buggies made by Days Healthcare urging them to contact their dealers. It has warned that the glitch is caused by the corrosion of the battery terminals and it is likely that the problem could get worse over time.

Clive Bray, the director of device technology and safety at the agency said: "The MHRA is advising anyone using Maxi 3, Maxi 4, and Midi 4 Plus mobility scooters manufactured between April 2004 and March 2006 to contact their dealer as soon as possible and to arrange for the necessary update to be carried out. This will ensure that the potential risk to users is reduced."