ASTORIA, Queens (WABC) -- An e-bike was to blame for a fire that ripped through a bike shop in Queens, forcing residents from their homes in the middle of the afternoon on Monday.
FDNY officials said the fire started inside the building located at 30-o5 41st Street just before 2 p.m.
Hours after the blaze, firefighters were still working on the scene of a burned-out Astoria bike shop.
The flames might have been out, but what caught fire was still extremely dangerous.
"Once they're compromised, they're very volatile, flammable explosive and they could reignite again just like that," FDNY Battalion Chief Brian Deery said.
Firefighters said at least one lithium battery within an e-bike spontaneously burst into flames, leading to a chain reaction inferno that sent smoke shooting throughout a corner walkup.
Firefighters crawled all over the building to alert people like Julie, who in her closed bedroom, didn't notice the cloud of smoke spreading through her apartment.
"And then the fireman walked in my room, and he said, 'stay in the room, you're safe now, open the windows and breathe,'" resident Julie said. "So I didn't even have time to get scared."
Citywide, this is the sixth fire blamed on e-bikes in just the past two months.
Just last week, families had to flee their building in Sunset Park after a three-alarm blaze there.
With the use of e-bikes and scooters skyrocketing, firefighters say it's never been more serious to follow the instructions when it comes to charging them.
They warn to never charge them overnight, or when no one's home.
There were a lot of e-bikes in the store and on Monday night, a private company had to come and remove all the batteries one by one, before the fire department would deem the place safe.
Fortunately no one was hurt, but the next call is just a single, overheating battery away.
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