Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanaugh said more than three dozen people were injured in a fire caused by a lithium-ion battery on the 20th floor of a New York City apartment building on Saturday morning.
EMS chief Joseph Pataky said during a news conference that thirty-eight people, including five service members, were injured. Two people are in critical condition, five are in critical condition and the rest are minors. Pataki said more injuries are likely as more families “come down and get assessed by EMS.”
The New York City Fire Department responded to multiple calls about a fire at an apartment building located in Manhattan’s Midtown East neighborhood, engulfing several people after 10 a.m. Saturday. Frank Leib, deputy assistant chief of the New York fire department, said when officers arrived they found a massive fire.
Kavanaugh said fire officials did an “extraordinary job” of rescuing several residents in the building. He used a rope to rescue two men, lowering them through a window on the 20th floor. Leib said the technique was an attempt of last resort.
A shocking video shared on social media on Saturday showed rope avoidance.
“What we saw today was our training, the work of our team, and our complete dedication,” Lieb said. “From the units that operate there with life-saving ropes, to pass them on to our exceptionally trained EMS personnel to get these patients all on the scene in a matter of minutes and off to local hospitals. “
The FDNY said earlier in the day that other residents of the building who were not close to the fire were asked to shelter until fire units had made their way to all apartments.
Chief Fire Marshal Dan Flynn said the lithium-ion battery for the e-bike started the fire, which was located just behind the apartment’s front door. He said it appeared that someone in the apartment was repairing an e-bike.
Flynn said there have been about 200 fires in the city this year caused by lithium-ion batteries.
“These fires come without warning, and when they do do fire, they are so intense that any flammable material in the area will catch fire – that’s why we’ve seen secondary fires,” he said. “And it’s not really like what we’ve seen traditionally where fires develop slowly, we’re facing a full-blown fire when the firefighters are getting here. So this is what happens We have seen different from the past.”