More than three dozen people were injured after a lithium-ion battery fire 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 at a press conference. Two are critically ill, five are seriously ill, and the rest are underage. There are likely to be more injuries as more families “come in and are assessed by the EMS,” said Pataky.
The New York City Fire Department responded to several phone calls regarding a fire in an apartment building in Manhattan’s Midtown East neighborhood, where many people were trapped after 10 a.m. on Saturday. When authorities arrived they found a heavy fire, New York City Deputy Deputy Chief of Fire Frank Leeb said.
Fire officials “did an extraordinary job” of saving many of the building’s occupants, Kavanaugh said. They used the rope to save two people by dropping them from a window on the 20th floor. Leeb said this technique was a last resort.
A stunning video shared on social media on Saturday showed a rope rescue.
“What we saw today is our training, teamwork and our absolute dedication,” said Leeb. “From the wards that operated there with a lifeline, to handing them over to our highly trained EMS staff to remove all patients from the scene in minutes and transfer them to local hospitals.”
Other occupants of the building who were not in the vicinity of the fire were ordered to take refuge on site until fire units could reach all the apartments, the FDNY informed earlier that day.
Dan Flynn, Chief Marshal of the Fire Department, said a lithium-ion battery for the e-bike caused a fire that was just outside the apartment’s front door. He said it looks like someone in the apartment was repairing the ebikes.
Flynn said the city has witnessed nearly 200 fires this year caused by a lithium-ion battery.
“These fires occur without warning, and when they do, they are so intense that any combustibles in the area will catch fire – so we’ve seen secondary fires,” he said. “And it’s not really what we have seen traditionally as the fires develop slowly, we encounter a fully developed fire when the fire units arrive here. So this is different from what we saw in the aftermath. “
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