- A number of lithium-ion batteries caught fire early Tuesday morning, killing four and leaving two in critical condition, the latest in a series of deadly blazes in New York City, according to the New York City Fire Department (FDNY).
- To date, there have been 108 lithium-ion battery fires in the city, which have injured 66 people and killed 13, up from just two fatalities at this time last year, FDNY told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
- “We would like to really emphasize today something we have been saying over and over … the volume of fire created by these lithium-ion batteries is incredibly deadly,” FDNY Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said in a statement.
A fire at an e-bike shop in New York City killed four people near midnight Tuesday morning, the most recent in a rash of deadly explosions and blazes linked to lithium-ion batteries in the city, according to the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) Tuesday.
The blaze — which started at HQ E-Bike Repair, the ground floor of a six-story building — spread to the apartments above, leaving an additional two individuals in critical condition and one firefighter with minor injuries, according to FDNY in a series of statements published on Twitter. FDNY Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said it was “very clear” that the fire was linked to lithium-ion batteries, as she stood in front of what appeared to be dozens of burned scooters and e-bikes, and warned New Yorkers that such devices could be very dangerous and typically exploded in such a way that rendered escape impossible, as opposed to slowly catching on fire. (RELATED: REPORT: NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell Abruptly Resigns)
“We would like to really emphasize today something we have been saying over and over: While there is tremendous and important regulation that we have conducted with the city council and the mayor’s office, it’s also very, very important we get the word out how incredibly dangerous this is,” Kavanagh said. “This exact scenario where there is an e-bike store on the first floor and residences above, and the volume of fire created by these lithium-ion batteries is incredibly deadly.”
There have been 108 lithium-ion battery fires in the city this year to date, which have injured 66 people and killed 13, FDNY told the Daily Caller News Foundation. The numbers are up significantly across the board compared to the same time last year, when 98 fires had injured 40 and killed two.
Kavanagh continued, noting that the department had “written violations” and “conducted enforcement” at the Chinatown e-bike shop in the past. The shop had been fined $1,600 after it was cited in an August inspection for multiple safety violations in connection with unsafe battery charging, number of batteries and the store-wide electrical system, according to the AP.
A recent inspection found that while no batteries were being charged at the store, it was in violation of storing too many batteries, Chief Fire Marshall Dan Flynn told local outlet ABC7 New York. A man, who identified himself as the owner but refused to provide anything other than his last name, Liu, told the AP that he left no batteries charging overnight when he left.
“A friend of mine came in and yelled ‘there’s a fire next door,'” said neighbor Belal Alayah, who saw the blaze, according to ABC7. “I step out, I see the flames so hot it’s going through the metal gate. I knew it was the bike store, so I called the fire department, but the fire kept getting bigger and bigger and it took them awhile to stop the fire.”
Kavanagh praised the work of firefighters and emergency medical responders, who she said “quickly” recovered six people with critical injuries, although four later passed away. She warned that the “sheer volume” of lithium-ion battery fires made it “near impossible” to get out in time.
Deputy Assistant Chief John Sarrocco told ABC7 that crews arrived in “just about four minutes.”
FDNY issued a warning to New Yorkers on Twitter, advising citizens to keep devices with lithium-ion batteries away from exits or windows, avoid using batteries that lacked “approved safety certifications,” avoid charging batteries overnight or when they are not present and to not use damaged or after-market batteries.
“We KNOW micro-mobility devices are in your homes,” the agency said. “Stop what you’re doing and do a quick safety check.”
HQ E-Bike Repair did not immediately respond to a Daily Caller News Foundation request for comment.
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