At least four people were killed and two others were critically injured following a multiple-alarm fire that ripped through an e-bike repair service store in New York City’s Chinatown on Tuesday morning.
What happened: A fire erupted at around 12:15 a.m. inside HQ E-Bike Repair, which is located on the first floor of a six-story building on 80 Madison Street. Thick smoke quickly filled the air as the blaze crawled up to the apartments above.
The fire reportedly reached three alarms, prompting 33 units, including 138 fire and EMS personnel, to respond to the scene. The blaze was placed under control around 2:30 a.m.
Deaths and injuries: At least nine people, including a firefighter and an EMT, were injured. They were rushed to local hospitals, including Bellevue Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian facilities. Two men and two women later succumbed to their injuries, while two others remain in critical condition.
The Red Cross is reportedly providing emergency housing to eight households, including 23 adults and 2 children.
Investigation: The cause of the fire is currently under investigation. However, some are already pointing to lithium-ion batteries that power e-bikes and e-scooters as the cause.
According to the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) Commissioner Laura Kavanagh, the incident is the 108th fire related to lithium-ion batteries this year, resulting in a total of 13 deaths.
FDNY summon: At a press conference, officials said that the location had been summoned by the FDNY last year for charging e-batteries and for the number of e-batteries on site, causing the shop owner to be issued a $1,600 fine.
“We have been aware of this location,” FDNY Chief Fire Marshall Dan Flynn said. “We did inspect this property in August, and we did issue FDNY summons. They were found guilty in court. Those were all related to the charging of the batteries and the number of batteries.”