At least 38 people were hospitalized after a fire on the 20th floor of a New York City high-rise apartment building on Saturday (November 5) morning. Officials said that most of the victims suffered from smoke inhalation and that at least two people were in critical condition.
The fire broke out around 10:30 a.m. and was contained within an hour.
Investigators said that the fire was caused by a lithium-ion battery from an electric bicycle. The person living in the apartment where the fire started was believed to be repairing e-bikes and had at least five electric bikes.
“The lithium-ion battery adds a different degree when we talk about the fire dynamics of it,” FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief Frank Leeb said. “These rooms flash over in just a mere matter of seconds.”
There have been over 200 fires in New York City this year caused by lithium-ion batteries in e-scooters or e-bikes.
A dramatic video posted on Twitter captured firefighters climbing down the side of the building and using ropes to residents trapped in their apartments.
“Fire EMS and dispatch did an extraordinary job rescuing a number of civilians,” FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said. “I cannot emphasize enough the extraordinary work of our members this morning in unbelievably dangerous conditions.”