NEW YORK (AP) — An electric bicycle powered by a lithium ion battery is blamed for a devastating fire Monday in New York City that killed two children, marking the latest in a chain of fires involving e-bikes in this city.
FDNY Director John Hodgens said it took his firefighters just three minutes to reach the Astoria, Queens home. However, given the fast-moving nature of the e-bike fire and the fact that the bike was being charged near the front entrance of the multi-family building, the victims “had no chance to get out of the building.” due to the intense fire that quickly spread up the stairs to a second floor apartment.
“So we got here very quickly. And if this wasn’t a bike fire, chances are we could have put it out without incident. But the way these fires happen, it’s like an explosion of fire,” he told reporters outside the burned house. “It is an ongoing problem. We urge everyone to be extra careful and aware of the dangers of these devices.”
With Monday’s fire, there have been five fire-related deaths this year in New York City, where officials said the cause of the fire was an electric bicycle. So far, there have been 59 e-bike-related fires this year. Last year there were six e-bike-related deaths.
Hodgens said a father and his six children were in a second-floor apartment just before 2 p.m. when the fire broke out. The father and his three children were able to jump from the window to safety. The mother was not at home at the time of the fire.
Hodgens said it appeared an extension cord was running down from the apartment above, where fire officials believe it was a post-marketing charger for a bicycle parked in the vestibule of the building. . While the bike was charged in this case, there have been other fires involving bikes that weren’t being charged at the time, Hodgens said.
E-bikes have become ubiquitous, fuel-free means of delivering, commuting and circling a city that has spurred cycling in recent decades.
New York City Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh urged residents to follow all manufacturer safety guidelines and recommendations for electric bicycles.
“We’re also calling on our federal, state and local partners to quickly put in place regulations that will help ensure tragedies like today’s fire are averted,” she said in a statement. “We are heartbroken for the families of these victims.”
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