Investigation continues after lithium-ion battery fire destroys Bronx grocery, laundromat

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Monday, March 6, 2023
E-bike battery sparks fire that destroys Bronx supermarket
Smoke could be seen from miles away from the fire on Grand Concourse and 181st Street in Fordham Heights. Flames broke out just before noon.Janice Yu has details.

FORDHAM HEIGHTS, The Bronx (WABC) -- The FDNY is still putting out hotspots after a fire destroyed a supermarket and laundromat in the Bronx over the weekend.

Investigators are working Monday to try to figure out if the lithium-ion battery responsible for a fire that burned through a supermarket and homes in the Bronx was not approved.

"There is nothing left and it is all because of this one single bike," FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said.

As the sun came up Monday morning, the light poured into the Concourse Food Plaza and laundromat next door, showing nothing but debris and charred rubble.

Officials say it was the result of an e-bike lithium-ion battery fire that started Sunday.

"We have seven injuries, five firefighters, one member of EMS and one civilian, everyone is stable but this really shows you how incredibly serious this can be," Kavanagh said.

The fire also displaced people living in the homes behind the building.

The damage is the latest example of why city leaders have been pushing for regulation of non-approved lithium-ion batteries used by e-bikes and scooters, as well as public education about where to store the batteries.

According to fire officials, these types of fires are extremely difficult to put out.

"We have to really adapt to the use of these batteries," Mayor Eric Adams said. "We must make sure that the illegal batteries are not in the city."

The batteries are to blame for at least 30 fires in New York City so far this year.

Just last week, the New York City Council passed legislation banning the sale of unregulated lithium-ion batteries.

And last month, the FDNY fire commissioner sent a letter to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission asking it to consider legislation that would prevent the sale and use of unapproved, refurbished batteries.

"This could be in your home and if you can do this amount of damage to a store of this size, just think of the danger that it can confront -- to yourself, to your family, to your building," Kavanagh said.

The loss of the supermarket will impact many in the community and will leave many with one less option when it comes to access to fresh food.

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