WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, Manhattan (WABC) -- Four people were taken to the hospital after a fire broke out inside an apartment in Washington Heights.
It happened Sunday at 565 West 190th Street just before 1 p.m. Firefighters were on the scene within three minutes of the 911 call and had the fire out within an hour.
What is left of a damaged scooter is still on the scene, however, the battery was removed to see if it was what started the fire. Firefighters have since determined it was not what started it -- but it did catch fire - and they are reminding people about lithium-ion battery safety anyway.
There is smoke and water damage in several apartments and the hallways, but the fire damage was contained to one fourth-floor apartment.
Witnesses describe black smoke pouring from the fourth-floor window that firefighters had to break, sending the air conditioner crashing to the street below.
Neighbors are worried about the people in that apartment - all four residents were taken to the hospital where they are in critical condition. All the victims are adults, but one, in particular, has neighbors very concerned - a 98-year-old woman who has lived in the building for at least 40 years. She is like a grandmother figure to many of the neighbors who grew up with her.
"We call her 'Mamita.' They brought her in the ambulance. Everyone's worried and we hope that they're ok," said Valery Tabares.
"There was an e-bike in the apartment. The fire marshals will determine whether it was the cause, involved, or just there. We don't know at this time, but there was an e-bike," said FDNY Chief Brian Gorman.
The e-bike looks more like a scooter and wasn't charred completely, as officials have seen in other battery fires. It is not clear who the e-bike belonged to.
Neighbors say the four people in that apartment were that 98-year-old woman, her home health aide, and two men, one believed to be someone who rents a room in that apartment.
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