At least 38 people were injured in a Manhattan building fire caused by a lithium-ion battery, officials said.



CNN

At least 38 people were injured in an apartment building fire in Manhattan on Saturday morning, which authorities say was caused by a lithium-ion battery connected to a micromobility device.

Of the injuries, two were critical, five were serious and the rest were minor, Fire Marshal Laura Kavanagh told a news conference. Authorities did not provide further details of the injured.

Video shot across the street from the skyscraper shows a woman hanging from a window as black smoke billows from the building. The video shows a firefighter using a rope to lower the building to help the woman. The woman survived.

Authorities received calls about fires and smoke at the East 52nd Street building shortly before 10:30 a.m., the commissioner said. The address given by officials corresponds to a 37-storey building known as Rivercourt in Manhattan’s Midtown East neighborhood, with 292 apartments, according to the building’s website.

Firefighters arrived on the scene “just over three minutes” after receiving initial reports and encountered a “strong fire condition” on the building’s 20th floor, the FDNY Deputy Deputy Chief said. Frank Leeb, during the press conference.

Two civilians were rescued from the apartment with the fire, Leeb said. Firefighters used ropes to carry out the rescues, he said.

“The firefighters, EMS and dispatch did an amazing job saving a number of civilians, including an incredible rooftop rescue,” Kavanagh said, adding that the firefighters were working in “incredibly dangerous conditions.”

The fire was “close to our 200th fire this year, with the cause of the fire being a lithium-ion battery from a micromobility device,” said Dan Flynn, the fire chief.

“We are seeing an exponential increase (of these types of fires)… over the past few years. These fires come with no warning and when they ignite they are so intense that all combustibles in the area will ignite,” Flynn said. “We’ve had six deaths this year just from these batteries that power micromobility devices.”

Officials said the cause of the fire was a lithium-ion battery and urged residents to exercise caution.

In January, a lithium-ion battery from an electric bicycle or scooter self-ignited in a Bronx apartment and started a four-alarm fire in which a firefighter was slightly injured, CNN has already reported. More than 100 fires were started by e-bikes in 2021, resulting in 79 injuries and four deaths, according to the FDNY.

Authorities believe the occupant of the apartment where Saturday’s fire likely started was repairing bicycles in the building, Flynn said.

The fire likely started “right behind the front door,” Flynn added. At least five bicycles were recovered from the apartment, he said.

“We are heading into the cold winter season, the fires are on the rise, and so we really implore all New Yorkers to make sure they and their families are safe,” said Kavanagh, the fire marshal. “We also want to highlight the growing cause of e-bike fires and ensure that families ensure they follow the safest way possible to use them, including not charging them at night when sleeping, in particular by ensuring that they are certified and that the batteries they use are in no way damaged.

Firefighters are on site to conduct an investigation, officials said.

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