Four people were killed and two injured when an outbreak at an e-bike repair shop in New York’s Chinatown quickly spread to surrounding homes.
The fatal fire was reported around 12 a.m. Tuesday morning at an e-bike repair shop in Lower Manhattan. The shop, called HQ E-Bike Repair, was on the street level of a six-story building with apartments above.
According to officials from the New York Fire Department (FDNY), a total of six people were pulled from the burning building early Tuesday morning.
Four of the victims, two men and two women, succumbed to their injuries. Two other women were hospitalized in critical condition.
A firefighter was also treated for minor injuries.
FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanaugh said the blaze was started by lithium-ion batteries and e-bikes stored at the repair shop.
Kavanaugh spoke to the press in front of a large pile of smoking bike tires, electric scooters and charging stations that lined the front of the store.
“The volume of fire generated by these lithium-ion batteries is incredibly deadly,” Kavanaugh said. The speed and intensity of these fires “makes it almost impossible to get out in time,” the commissioner added.
Lithium-ion batteries are commonly used to power “micro-mobility” devices such as e-bikes and electric scooters, which are commonly used by delivery bike riders.
The batteries have also sparked similar fires in London and West Yorkshire this year.
The store has been attacked at least twice by city fire inspectors, the FDNY said.
“We inspected this property in August and issued FDNY subpoenas.” “They were found guilty in court,” Chief Fire Marshal Dan Flynn said. The store was fined $1,600 for the subpoena.
The business was also cited in 2021, the fire protection officer added.
According to the FDNY, there were 108 lithium-ion battery-started fires in 2023, killing a total of 13 New Yorkers.
“That’s significantly more than last year,” said Commissioner Kavanaugh. “I think we were at two this time last year.”
The FDNY is urging New Yorkers never to charge their micro-mobility devices overnight and to ensure charging stations are not placed in an area that would block an escape route.
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