Lithium-ion battery caused fire that left 3 dead, 14 injured in Crown Heights: FDNY

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Tuesday, November 14, 2023
Lithium-ion battery caused fire that left 3 dead, 14 injured in Brooklyn
Tom Negovan has more on the investigation.

CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn (WABC) -- The FDNY revealed Monday that a lithium-ion battery is to blame for a deadly fire in Brooklyn over the weekend.

Three people were killed and 14 others were injured in the fast-moving fire in a brownstone on Sunday.

On Monday, the fire marshal said scooters were found at the fire's point of origin and were powered by lithium-ion batteries.

Firefighters were called to the scene at Albany Avenue and Park Place in Crown Heights around 4:30 a.m. Sunday. They responded in less than four minutes to flames coming out every window and the front door.

Albertha West, the 81-year-old matriarch of the family was killed in the fire -- the home was her family compound where she watched generations grow up.

Albertha's son Michael West, 58, and her 33-year-old grandson, Jamiyl were also killed in the fire.

Most of the other patients at the scene were assessed for smoke inhalation and released. One firefighter suffered a serious injury but is now recovering at home.

Officials said there have been 238 fires linked to the batteries and the total number killed by lithium-ion batteries in New York City this year alone is now up to 17. The city's fire commissioner said it's like having "ticking time bombs" inside people's homes.

"There is blood on the hands of this private industry- both the online retailers who continue to sell these illegal devices to this day-- and the food delivery apps who continue to think that this problem will solve itself," FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said.

It's unclear whether smoke detectors were inside and operational at the time, but Kavanaugh said the batteries don't smolder, which is how a smoke detector would typically give an early warning.

"They explode- and the second they explode, there may be so much fire at that moment, you can't get out," Kavanagh said.

FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh provides an update on Sunday's fire in Crown Heights that claimed three lives.


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