20% of New York fire deaths are linked to these devices
A massive fire that killed three generations of a Brooklyn family over the weekend was sparked by a lithium-ion battery used to power an electric scooter owned by one of the victims, the New York Post reports.
The ignited battery created a “wall of fire” that made it very difficult for residents of 242 Albany Ave to evacuate. in Crown Heights, where a fire broke out shortly after 4:30 a.m. Sunday, killing Alberta West, 81, her son Michael West, 58, and grandson Jamil West, 33, the FDNY said.
“The volume of fire we are seeing from these batteries creates unbearable conditions for both residents to get out and for FDNY personnel to get in,” Fire Commissioner Laura Cavanagh said.
Three of West’s relatives were removed from the three-story home and initially hospitalized with critical injuries before being pronounced dead later on Sunday, FDNY officials said. The fire injured at least 14 other people, including one firefighter who suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
“This was a complex and dangerous fire that required a significant response from our staff and resulted in serious injury to one of our firefighters,” Cavanaugh said.
The lithium-ion battery was found “severely damaged” in the home, the FDNY chief added. Chief Fire Marshal Daniel Flynn said the scooter that contained the power device belonged to one of the people killed in the fire, but he did not say who.
The marshal said two scooters were found on the first floor where the fire started. “I’m willing to bet the West family thought it was safe when they bought it,” Kavanagh added. The best thing we can do is make sure that unsafe devices cannot be sold.”
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Fires involving lithium-ion batteries accounted for 17 of the 93 fire deaths reported in the city this year, a top fire official told reporters. “This figure is staggering, it is devastating and it goes to the heart of a problem that we have been sounding the alarm about for a long time,” Kavanagh said.
She called the devices “ticking time bombs” that the city is “working hard to eliminate,” but says private industry is not doing its part.
“Private businesses have blood on their hands, as do online retailers who continue to sell these illegal devices to this day. And from food delivery apps that continue to think this problem will solve itself,” she said.
“We cannot and will not stand by while this industry does nothing to address the problem that lies right at their feet and which they can solve today,” Kavanagh added.
Neighbor Jason Thompson said he woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and saw thick smoke pouring through the bricks into his house. “I started shouting: “Go away!” Come out!, said 44-year-old Thompson. “I have four kids ranging in age from 4 to 18, so I was just focused on getting everyone out.”
Although his family made it outside safely, Thompson said the last person firefighters carried from the destroyed home “looked like a kebab.” “They were charred. They were lying on stretchers,” he said.
Thompson said he has known his housemates, including Alberta, the grandmother beloved by everyone on the block, for 40 years. “Just the wonderful people we grew up with, their children and grandchildren,” he added. “They were like family to us.” Very nice people.”