Video of diesel van passed off as zero-emission van on fire in London

By: Rahul Adhikari
January 31 2024

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Video of diesel van passed off as zero-emission van on fire in London

Social media posts claim to show a zero-emission vehicle that caught fire in London. (Source: Instagram/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict False

The fire started from a diesel-engine van, not a zero-emission one. The incident happened in May 2023 near Great Cumberland Place in London.

Claim ID f1a614e9

What is the claim?

A video circulating on social media falsely claims to show a zero-emission vehicle that caught fire in London. The footage shows a van engulfed in flames, emitting black smoke from the front section. The fire also spread to the car parked adjacent to it. Eventually, a team of firefighters arrived and extinguished the blaze. The van seen in the video appears to belong to British grocery delivery company Ocado.

A user posted the video on Instagram and gained over 1,400 likes, and over 200 comments. The caption of the post read, “They told me to shop with Ocado because they have 0% emmision vans 🤔 #vanfire.” Another user posted the video on Facebook and wrote, “Is it just me, or are ‘environmentally friendly’ cars suddenly going up in flames a new phenomenon?” Archived versions of the post can be found here and here

Screenshots of the posts on Instagram and Facebook.(Source: Instagram/Facebook/Modified by Logically Facts)

However, the van in the video has a diesel engine and is not a zero-emission vehicle. The fire then spread from the van to an adjacent electric car.

What did we find?

One frame of the video shows a board on the house behind the van which reads "44 Great Cumberland Place," which we located to the City of Westminster, Greater London. A man in a green and orange vest which also bore the name City of Westminster, is also visible in the video, which helped us to confirm the location.

Through a reverse image search on the keyframes of the video, we found that a longer version of it was uploaded on YouTube on May 11, 2023. The video is titled "ocado van burns, and the car in front catches fire, too. London, 9th of May 2023."

Speaking with Logically Facts, Joseph Sterry, Senior Communications Officer for the London Fire Brigade, refuted the claim and clarified that the fire originated from a diesel engine van and spread to an adjacent electric vehicle.

Sterry said, “On 9 May 2023, firefighters responded to a vehicle fire near the junction of Upper Berkeley Street and Great Cumberland Place. The fire originated in a van fitted with a diesel engine. Radiant heat from the van fire then caused an adjacent electric vehicle to also catch fire. The Brigade was first called about the fire at 1043, and the incident was over for crews by 1125. Firefighters from Paddington Fire Station attended the scene.”

The fire brigade's statement shows that the fire originated from the Ocado van, which is a diesel vehicle. 

The Ocado Retail Press Office told Logically Facts that the incident did not involve an electric van and directed us to their statement provided to Reuters. According to the statement, the registration number of the van is LL69 JUW, which matches the first five characters of the license plate visible on the van in the viral video. We used this information to check the registration of this license plate and confirmed that the vehicle seen is a 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter with a diesel engine.

The verdict

The fire in the video started from a diesel-fuelled Ocado van before spreading to an adjacent electric car. The London Fire Brigade and Ocado confirmed to Logically Facts that the van was not a zero-emission vehicle. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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