Dozens injured as lithium battery fire rips through Manhattan high-rise: ‘Unbelievably dangerous’

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Dozens of people were injured, two critically, in a blaze at a high-rise apartment building in Manhattan caused by a faulty battery, fire officials said.

The fire broke out on Saturday morning in the 37-story building on East 52nd Street, near the East River, according to the New York Daily News.

Dramatic videos posted online showed people hanging out of apartment windows to escape the billowing smoke as firefighters used ropes to scale the building to rescue two people.

Fire officials said some residents above the floor where the fire started escaped to the roof, the Associated Press reports officials saying.

Speaking at a news conference, FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said the fire started in a 20th-floor apartment from a lithium-ion battery connected to an unspecified micromobility device.

Emergency services received calls about fire and smoke at the building shortly before 10.30am, the commissioner said.

Fire units were on the scene in a little over three minutes and encountered a “heavy fire condition”, FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief Frank Leeb said, per ABC News.

“Fire, EMS, and dispatch did an extraordinary job rescuing a number of civilians, including an incredible roof rescue,” Commissioner Kavanagh said, adding they worked in “unbelievably dangerous conditions”.

Thirty-eight people are known to have been injured, including two in critical condition and five in serious condition, according to officials. It is not yet known how many families were displaced by the fire.

There has been a spate of fires linked to micromobility devices in New York leading to several deaths.

An electric scooter battery sparked a fire that killed an eight-year-old girl in Queens in September, and a woman and a five-year-old girl were killed in August in Harlem by a fire that was blamed on a scooter battery. A fire linked to an e-scooter killed a nine-year-old boy in Queens in September 202, the Associated Press notes.

The blaze was “close to our 200th fire this year where the cause of the fire is a lithium-ion battery from a micromobility device,” Dan Flynn, the chief fire marshal said, per CNN reporting.

Commissioner Kavanagh commented: “[We] want to emphasize the rising cause of fires from e-bikes and to ensure that families are making sure that they are following the safest possible way to use these, including not charging them overnight when they are asleep, including making sure they are certified and that the batteries that they are using are not damaged in any way.”

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