FDNY has warning as e-bike confirmed as cause in Manhattan high-rise fire

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Tuesday, November 8, 2022
FDNY has warning as e-bike confirmed as cause in NYC high-rise fire
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A total of 46 civilians, firefighters and police officers were injured in a high-rise fire in Manhattan Saturday, the FDNY said Sunday. Kemberly Richardson has the story.

TURTLE BAY, Manhattan (WABC) -- Firefighters are trying to warn people about the dangers of improperly stored or charging lithium batteries after 46 people were injured in a high-rise fire in Manhattan Saturday.

Two civilians were taken to a hospital in critical condition and two in serious condition, the fire department said.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital said it received 34 patients from the fire and had released 28 as of Sunday evening. The hospital wouldn't provide specifics on individual patients' conditions.

First responders had no choice but to pull off a rare and risky rope rescue to save two people on the 20th floor.

Officials said a lithium ion battery attached to an e-bike in that same unit is what sparked the fire.

On Monday, FDNY Chief Fire Marshall Dan Flynn explained how dangerous the batteries can be.

"They charged it, left it unattended, fell asleep and that stopped them from being able to exit the apartment," Flynn said.

Officials say there were at least five more e-bikes inside the apartment -- possibly as part of a repair business.

A resident who lives on a floor above where the fire started said e-bikes and e-scooters have been a growing problem inside the 37-story building.

"They put up signs, made some sort of token effort, but I know I raised the issue at least twice and it's not being enforced," Glen Barry said.

Experts says do not charge e-bikes and scooters near radiators or block your front door, as was the case in Saturday's fire -- and finally it's critical the battery charger, cord and e-bike are compatible.

"There were many moments there where me, my golden retriever and my wife and I weren't sure we were going to make it out," Barry said.

The Red Cross said Sunday it provided temporary lodging and some emergency money to two people displaced by Saturday's fire, which spurred a dramatic and rare rope rescue 20 stories above Manhattan's East 52nd Street, a few blocks from the United Nations' headquarters.

Officials were looking into whether the apartment building had a fire alarm, whether any doors were left open, and other questions.

Citywide, nearly 200 blazes and six fire deaths this year have been tied to "micromobility" device batteries, marking "an exponential increase" in such fires over the last few years, Flynn said at a news conference Saturday.

Among the victims: an 8-year-old girl killed when an electric scooter battery sparked a fire in Queens in September, and a woman and a 5-year-old girl killed in August in Harlem by a fire that was blamed on a scooter battery.

The Fire Department has repeatedly urged users of such batteries to follow the manufacturer's charging and storage instructions, employ only the manufacturer's cord and power adapter, stop using a battery if it overheats, and follow other safety guidance.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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