More than three dozen people were injured after a fire caused by a lithium-ion battery broke out on the 20th floor of a New York City apartment building on Saturday morning, Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said.
Thirty-eight people were injured, including five members of the service, EMS Chief Joseph Pataky said during a press conference. Two people are in critical condition, five are in serious and the rest are minor. There are likely to be more injuries as more families “come down and are evaluated by EMS,” Pataky said.
The New York City Fire Department responded to several calls about a fire in an apartment building, located in Manhattan’s Midtown East neighborhood, with multiple people trapped after 10 a.m. Saturday. When authorities arrived, they found a heavy fire, Deputy Assistant Chief in the Fire Department of New York Frank Leeb said.
Fire officials “did an extraordinary job” rescuing many residents in the building, Kavanaugh said. They used a rope to rescue two people, lowering them out of a window on the 20th floor. Leeb said the technique was a last-resort effort.
Stunning video shared to social media on Saturday showed the rope rescue.
“What we saw today was our training, our team work, and our absolute dedication,” Leeb said. “From the units that operated up there with the lifesaving rope to passing them off to our exceptionally trained EMS personnel to get these patients all off scene in a matter of a couple of minutes and off to local hospitals.”
Other residents in the building who were not close to the fire were told to shelter in place until fire units could make their way to all of the apartments, the FDNY said earlier in the day.
Dan Flynn, the chief fire marshal, said a lithium-ion battery for an e-bike started the fire, which was located right behind the front door of the apartment. He said it appeared that someone in the apartment had been repairing e-bikes.
Flynn said the city has seen nearly 200 fires this year caused by a lithium-ion battery.
“These fires come without warning, and when they do go on fire, they’re so intense that any combustibles in the area will catch fire — so we’ve seen secondary fires,” he said. “And this isn’t really what we’ve seen traditionally where fires are slow to develop, we’re encountering a fully-developed fire when the fire units are arriving here. So that’s where this differs from what we’ve seen in the past.”