At least 38 injured in Manhattan apartment building fire caused by lithium-ion batteries, officials say


At least 38 people were injured in a fire in a Manhattan apartment building Saturday morning that authorities believe was caused by lithium-ion batteries attached to tiny mobile devices.

Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said at a news conference that two of them were seriously injured, five were seriously injured and the rest were less so. Officials did not release any further details about the injured.

A video taken from across the street from a high-rise showed a woman dangling out of a window as black smoke poured from the building. The video shows a firefighter using ropes to shrink the building to help the woman. The woman survived.

Video shows firefighters rescuing a woman.

Authorities received a call about a fire and smoke at the East 52nd Street building shortly before 10:30 a.m., the commissioner said. The address given by officials corresponds to a 37-story apartment building called Rivercourt in Manhattan’s Midtown East neighborhood, with 292 apartments, according to the building’s website.

FDNY Deputy Assistant Commissioner Frank Ribb said at a news conference that the fire department was on the scene “just over three minutes” after the first report was received and encountered a “serious fire” on the 20th floor of the building.

Rib said two civilians were rescued from the fire in the apartment. Firefighters used ropes to rescue, he said.

“The firefighting, EMS and dispatch have done an excellent job of rescuing many civilians, including an incredible rooftop rescue,” Kavanagh said, adding that firefighters were in “incredibly dangerous conditions.” Work.

The blaze is “approaching our 200th fire this year, and it started with a lithium-ion battery from a tiny mobile device,” said Chief Fire Marshal Dan Flynn.

“We’ve seen an exponential increase (in these types of fires) … over the past few years. These fires are unannounced, and when they catch fire, they are so intense that the Anything combustible will catch fire,” Flynn said. “We’ve had six people die this year from these batteries that power tiny mobile devices.”

Officials said the cause of the fire was a lithium-ion battery and urged residents to use it with caution.

In January, a lithium-ion battery in an electric bike or scooter spontaneously ignited in an apartment in the Bronx, sparking a Level 4 fire that left a firefighter with minor injuries, CNN previously reported. Electric bikes have sparked more than 100 fires in 2021, injuring 79 people and killing four, according to the New York Fire Department.

Authorities believe occupants in the apartment where Saturday’s fire likely started have been repairing bicycles in the building, Flynn said.

Flynn added that the fire was likely “right behind the front door.” At least five bikes were recovered from the apartment, he said.

“We’re entering a cold winter and fires are really going to rise, so we implore all New Yorkers to keep them and their families safe,” said Fire Commissioner Kavanagh. “We also want to highlight the growing number of fires caused by electric bicycles. , and make sure households make sure they follow the safest way to use it, including not charging them while they’re asleep, including making sure they are and the batteries they’re using haven’t suffered any damage.”

Firefighters are at the scene investigating, officials said.

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