A 7-year-old boy and a teenager died in a fire sparked by the lithium-ion battery of an electric bike in New York on Monday, marking the fifth battery-related death in the city so far this year, they said. The authorities.
Calling the incident a «terrible tragedy,» New York City Fire Department Chief John Hodgens said the fire started in the first-floor lobby of a residential building in Queens.
The flames quickly traveled upstairs, where a father and his children were staying. NBC New York informed. Four people were able to jump out of the windows, but two did not survive, Hodgens he said in a social media post..
«The way these fires occur, it’s like a fire explosion. The occupants have very little chance of escape,» Hodgens said.
«We’ve been talking about this for a couple of years and how dangerous it is to store these devices anywhere near the exit. This bike was right at the front door of the house and the occupants had no chance to get out.» the building,” she said.
The incident comes amid an increase in the number of fires caused by lithium batteries in the United States.
Monday’s blaze marked the city’s 59th fire and the fifth fatality caused by a lithium-ion battery so far this year, said Dan Flynn, the department’s fire chief.
Last month, a lithium-ion battery sparked another fast-moving fire in New York City, ripping through a supermarket and a neighboring laundromat.
Authorities said an electric mobility device, possibly an electric bicycle powered by a lithium-ion battery, was to blame for the five-alarm fire.
Electric bikes are widely used in high-density cities, especially New York, where the mode of transportation is popular for delivery services. The lithium-ion batteries that power them have become an increasingly common feature in transportation, as well as in home products and residential solar power systems.
However, when batteries fail or overheat, they can release toxic and flammable gases that can cause fast-spreading fires that are difficult to extinguish.
“The source of the gases that are creating the flames is confined within a cell battery that will not allow water to enter,” Ofodike Ezekoye, a fire scientist and professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Texas at Texas, previously told NBC News. Austin. “When firefighters are responding to these types of incidents, it takes a lot longer to get the fire under control because it requires a lot more water.”
With the number of fires caused by lithium batteries rising across the country, firefighters and other experts have warned that the training needed to fight them is lagging behind in many places, while many users may not be aware of the risks.
“We want people to use them, but we want people to use them safely,” Flynn said after the fire Monday.
The fire marshal warned that electric bike users should purchase chargers that are compatible with the devices they purchase.
«Don’t buy the cheapest device. We lost two people today, we were lucky we didn’t lose six,» he said.