New York City firefighters on Sunday battled a five-alarm fire that officials believe was started by the battery of an e-bike.
The New York City Fire Department responded to the fire around 10:41 a.m. Sunday morning at 2096 Grand Concourse in the Bronx.
More than 200 members from over fifty units, including Fire and EMS were on scene, Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said. Five firefighters, one member of the EMS, and one civilian were injured.
The cause of the fire was determined to be a lithium-ion battery that powered a scooter.
Kavanagh said there was “extraordinary damage,” with an entire building completely destroyed and the roof caved in “all because of this one single e-bike.”
Chief of Fire Operations John Hodgens said firefighters stretched the hose line into the building and started to extinguish the fire but were “unable to get ahead of it.”
“It had spread quickly into the void spaces of the building and took off from there. These buildings are old and the lumber and when you expose that aged lumber, to fire, it quickly spreads throughout the entire building,” Hodgens said.
“We really want to emphasize to the public how much damage can be done by a single e-bike that isn’t a compliant, a single e-bike that might not be certified, might be using an illegal battery. This bike could be in your home,” Kavanaugh said. “And if it can do this amount of damage to a store of this size, just think of the danger that to yourself, to your family, to your building.”
Lithium ion batteries used to power electric bicycles and scooters have already sparked 22 fires that caused 36 injuries and two deaths in New York City this year, four times the number of fires linked to the batteries by this time last year, officials said last month.
Fire Commissioner Kavanagh said Mayor Eric Adams’ administration is “coming at this problem from every single angle,” including working with the City Council and the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission on additional regulations for the batteries and educating the public on their proper use and storage.
“These are incredibly dangerous devices, and we must make sure that members of the community are handling them properly and using them safely,” Kavanagh said at a briefing on public safety.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.