At least 38 people were injured in a Manhattan apartment building fire Saturday morning, which authorities believe was caused by a lithium ion battery connected to a micromobility device.
Of the injuries, two were critical, five were serious and the rest minor, Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said in a news conference.
Authorities received calls about fire and smoke at the building on East 52nd Street shortly before 10:30 a.m., the commissioner said. Fire units were on scene in “just over three minutes” after first receiving reports and encountered a “heavy fire condition” on the building’s 20th floor, FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief Frank Leeb said during the news conference.
Two civilians were rescued from the apartment with the fire, Leeb said. Fire personnel used ropes to make the rescues, he said.
“Fire, EMS and dispatch did an extraordinary job rescuing a number of civilians, including an incredible roof rescue,” Kavanagh said, adding that fire personnel were working in “unbelievably dangerous conditions.”
The blaze was “close to our 200th fire this year where the cause of the fire is a lithium ion battery from a micromobility device,” Dan Flynn, the chief fire marshal, said.
Authorities believe that the occupant in the apartment where the fire likely began had been repairing bikes in the building, Flynn said.
The fire likely started “right behind the front door,” Flynn added. At least five bikes were recovered from the apartment, he said.
“We are heading into the cold winter season, fires do go up, and so we really implore all New Yorkers to ensure that they and their families are safe,” Kavanagh, the fire commissioner, said. “We also want to emphasize the rising cause of fires from e-bikes and to ensure that families are making sure that they are following the safest possible way to use these, including not charging them overnight when they are asleep, including making sure they are certified and that the batteries that they are using are not damaged in any way.”