Harlem fire that killed 1, injured 17 others caused by lithium-ion battery

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Sunday, February 25, 2024
Deadly Harlem fire caused by lithium-ion battery, FDNY reports
Anthony Carlo has the latest from Harlem.

HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- One person has died, and more than a dozen others were injured after a two-alarm fire caused by a lithium-ion battery broke out at a Manhattan apartment building on Friday,

The fire began just after 2 p.m. on the third floor of a six-story building located at the intersection of West 149th Street and 2 St. Nicholas Pl. in Harlem.

The FDNY determined the cause of the fire was a lithium-ion battery:

There were eight batteries being charged inside the building.

Lithium-ion batteries caused 268 fires, 150 injuries and 18 deaths last year -- the destruction continues with the first fatality this year.

Earlier this month, fire commissioner Laura Kavanagh touted the 'Lithium-Ion Task Force' for busting an e-bike shop in Queens for illegally repairng batteries.

The Hechinger Reports's data reporter Fazil Khan was identified as the oerson who died in the fire.

Dense black smoke quickly rose to the upper floors, making it unbearable for the people living there. Firefighters were forced to make rescues by rope.

Police said people were hanging out windows and fire escapes as the blaze progressed. While some residents, like Regina Shaw, her adult son and two puppies, managed to get out on their own, others had to be rescued by firefighters via rope.

"People were screaming, I could hear people screaming like they were involved in the fire," Shaw said.

NYPD video shows FDNY firefighters pulling off the daring rescues, risking their lives as they scaled down the side of the burning high-rise building.

NYPD video shows FDNY firefighters making daring rope rescues after fire breaks out in Harlem.

"Our members attached themselves to a rope and then another member goes on to the rope and goes off the side of the building, goes down to the window and grabs the person," FDNY Chief of Operations John Hodgens said.

FDNY officials say firefighters had to make three rope rescues, which they say is very unusual to do at one fire.

Jason Lopez, a probationary firefighter was one of those rescuers, putting his life on the line with less than a year on the job.

"We always train like the real thing so when the real thing happens, we know what we're doing," Lopez said.

Eyewitness News reporter Darla Miles spoke with one witness who saw a person hanging on from their fingertips and ultimately fell down into the alleyway.

FDNY officials said 18 people were injured, including five who were in critical condition. Of those five people, one person later died.

Hodgens says the flames were so intense because a third-floor apartment door was left open.

"In just a matter of moments all of that just goes up in actual flames," said displaced resident Samuel Shaw.

A full vacate order has been placed on the building which has 31 units.

The Red Cross is now supporting families displaced by the fire. A reception center has been opened at PS/IS 210 on West 152nd Street.


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