One person is dead and six more injured after a fire blamed on an e-bike battery ripped through a Bronx apartment on Sunday.
According to a fire department spokesperson, the fire occurred around 7 p.m. in a 10th-floor apartment in a public housing complex on Bronx River Avenue in Crotona Park, Bronx.
Twenty FDNY units, including 78 firefighters, responded to the fire.
Hiriam Borrero-Echevarria, 39, was taken to the hospital with critical injuries but succumbed to his injuries and later died, making him the 18th person so far this year due to lithium-ion batteries, which FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh refers to as “ticking time bombs.”
Two others suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
During their investigation, the fire department found an e-bike at the scene. The FDNY concluded on Monday that the fire was caused by a lithium-ion battery, a highly explosive device used to power the devices.
The deadly fire occurred just three weeks after a fire blamed on a lithium-ion battery exploded and killed three members of a Brooklyn family.
New York City is no stranger to fires involving batteries that power e-bikes and e-scooters. Kavanagh reported that the increased number of fires due to these devices alone is “staggering.”
According to city officials, the fire department counted 133 injuries and 253 fires linked to lithium-ion batteries so far this year.
Most of the city’s e-bikes and e-scooters are used for delivering food through delivery app services, such as GrubHub. Kavanagh believes delivery services should be responsible for storing, maintaining, and charging their workers’ equipment at commercial-industrial sites. However, other officials believe New York City Mayor Eric Adams is more equipped to regulate them.
While the City Council banned the sale of e-batteries that don’t meet Underwriters Lab-type safety standards, it has no way of enforcing the law. They also instructed the FDNY and the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection to launch an education campaign.
City officials have lobbied the federal government to strengthen regulations involving the sale of e-bikes and batteries.