Warnings Issued After E-Bike Repair Shop Fire

Surge In Lithium Battery Fires Triggers Warnings

New York: Fire started by e-bike batteries. Credit: FDNY/Twitter.com

A fire broke out at an e-bike repair shop yesterday and has resulted in multiple deaths and a warning from the fire department.

At around 12.00 am on Tuesday, June 20, in New York’s Chinatown, a fire which started in an e-bike repair shop spread to other apartments and caused the deaths of four people, writes CBS News.

Speaking on behalf of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) Commissioner Laura Kavanaugh first paid tribute to the four people, believed to be two women and two men, who sadly lost their lives.

She then went on to highlight the dangers of lithium-ion batteries which were the root cause of the blaze. The fire chief also revealed that the owners of the e-bike business had been issued numerous violations within the last two years for the number of e-bike batteries that were inside and plugged in.

The shop was located at the ground level of a six-storey building. Firefighters broke through the store’s ceiling to rescue the people trapped in the apartment block above.

It was reported that six people were hospitalised, tragically four of them died, including a 71-year-old man and a 62-year-old woman. Another two people are said to be in a critical condition who are aged between 65 and 80 years old.

A statement from FDNY on Twitter said: ‘This morning, a 3-alarm fire claimed the lives of four New Yorkers at 80 Madison Street in Manhattan. Fire Marshals determined the fire to be accidental, caused by a lithium-ion battery in a first-floor e-bike shop.’

This latest tragedy has highlighted a growing problem with the growing popularity of e-bikes and scooters. In 2022 there were 220 fires in New York City alone, all started by lithium-ion batteries, which resulted in the deaths of six people. From the start of 2023 to date they have caused 108 fires and 13 deaths.

Following the report of the fire, FDNY posted a warning on the dangers of charging the batteries without due care: ‘The FDNY urges New Yorkers to be cautious when using devices powered by lithium-ion batteries. Do not leave batteries charging unattended or overnight when you’re sleeping. Do leave them in hallways, doorways, or exits. Do not use power or extension cords to charge.’

The danger for businesses is the sheer number of batteries they charge in a confined area. The advice is to allow a space of at least two feet (600mm) between each battery. Plug the charging cable directly to the power source and to not use extension cables.

Kavanagh concluded: ‘The sheer volume of fire is incredibly dangerous. It can make it nearly impossible to get out in time.’

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.