At least 38 people were injured Saturday morning in a Manhattan apartment fire that authorities believe was caused by a lithium-ion battery connected to a micromobility device.
Two of the injuries were serious, five were serious and the rest were minor, Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said at a press conference.
Authorities received calls about fire and smoke at the building on East 52nd Street just before 10:30 a.m., the commissioner said. Firefighter units were on the scene “just over three minutes” after receiving the first reports and found a “severe fire” on the 20th floor of the building, FDNY Deputy Chief Frank Leeb said at a news conference.
Two civilians were rescued from the fire, Leeb said. Firefighters used ropes to make rescues, he said.
“Fire, EMS and dispatch did an extraordinary job rescuing multiple civilians, including a dramatic roof rescue,” Kavanagh said, adding that fire crews were working in “incredibly dangerous conditions.”
The fire was “close to the 200th fire this year where the cause of the fire is a lithium ion battery in a micromobility device,” said Fire Chief Dan Flynn.
Authorities believe the fire likely started when the apartment’s resident was repairing bicycles in the building, Flynn said.
The fire probably started “right behind the door,” Flynn added. At least five bicycles were recovered from the apartment, he said.
“As we head into the cold winter season, fires are on the rise, so we really urge all New Yorkers to make sure they and their families are safe,” said Kavanagh, the fire commissioner. “We also want to emphasize that electric bikes are a growing cause of fires and that families are making sure that they follow the safest way to use them, including not charging overnight when they are sleeping, among other things. insured and that the batteries in use are not damaged in any way.”