At Least 38 Injured In Manhattan High-Rise Apartment Fire

A fire at a high-rise apartment complex in New York City has sent 38 people to the hospital, including five EMS workers.

The fire was caused by the lithium-ion battery from a micro-mobility device and started around the 20th floor of a 37-story apartment building. Of the 38 injured, two are reported to be in critical condition, and five in serious condition.

FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief Frank Leeb said that FDNY units were on the scene within three minutes of receiving the call and encountered what he called “heavy fire conditions.”

Two people were rescued from the apartment where the fire began as FDNY personnel used a life-saving rope technique to scale the building and rescue civilians who could not escape through their door. The video can be seen below:

Micro mobility devices are “small, lightweight vehicles operating at a speed typically below 15 miles per hour and driven by the individual user, such as bicycles, e-bikes, and electric scooters.” Electric bicycles and scooters have become particularly popular recently with “ride-share” companies and inexpensive options for people who need to travel short distances.

As their popularity has grown, the danger of the lithium batteries that power them has grown as well. Dan Flynn, the chief fire marshal said that this fire was “close to our 200th fire this year where the cause of the fire is a lithium-ion battery from a micro-mobility device.”

Flynn continued, “We’re seeing an exponential increase (in these types of fires) … over the last few years. These fires, they come without warning and when they do go on fire, they’re so intense that any combustibles in the area will catch fire. We’ve had six fatalities this year just from these batteries that power micro-mobility devices.”

Leeb said, “The lithium-ion battery adds a different degree when we talk about the fire dynamics of it. These rooms flash over in just a mere matter of seconds.”

The building that caught on fire had a sign in front that read, “No pedal or e-bikes allowed beyond this point.” The apartment where the fire began housed at least five different electronic bikes.