More than three dozen people were injured after a fire caused by a lithium-ion battery broke out on the 20th floor of an apartment building in New York City on Saturday morning, Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said.
Thirty-eight people were injured, including five service members, EMS chief Joseph Pataky said at a news conference. Two people are in critical condition, five are in serious condition and the rest are minors. There will likely be more injuries as more families “come down and be assessed by emergency medical services,” Pataky said.
The New York City Fire Department responded to multiple calls about a fire at an apartment building in Manhattan’s Midtown East neighborhood with several people trapped after 10 a.m. Saturday. When authorities arrived, they discovered a massive fire, New York Fire Department Deputy Deputy Chief Frank Leeb said.
Firefighters “did an amazing job” saving many residents of the building, Kavanaugh said. They used a rope to save two people, lowering them through a window on the 20th floor. Leeb said the technique was a last resort effort.
A stunning video shared on social media on Saturday showed the rope rescue.
“What we saw today was our training, our teamwork and our absolute dedication,” Leeb said. “From the units that operated up there with the rescue rope to their transmission to our exceptionally trained EMS personnel to get these patients off the scene within minutes and dispatched to local hospitals.”
Other residents of the building who were not close to the blaze have been ordered to shelter in place until firefighters can get to all apartments, the FDNY said earlier. during the day.
Dan Flynn, the fire chief, said a lithium-ion battery for an electric bicycle started the fire, which was located just outside the apartment’s front door. He said it looked like someone in the apartment was fixing e-bikes.
Flynn said the city has seen nearly 200 fires this year caused by a lithium-ion battery.
“These fires come with no warning, and when they ignite they are so intense that all combustibles in the area ignite – so we have seen secondary fires,” he said. “And that’s not really what we’ve seen traditionally where the fires are slow to develop, we encounter a fully developed fire when the fire units arrive here. So that’s where it differs from what we have seen in the past.”