Lithium Ion Battery Caused Fatal Fire In New York City Apartment Building, Officials Say

NEW YORK (AP) — A lithium ion battery sparked a fire that killed one person and injured 17 others at a New York City apartment building, fire officials said Saturday.

Friday's two-alarm fire began just after 2 p.m. on the third floor of a six-story building in Harlem. New York Police Department video shows firefighters being lowered by ropes from the roof to rescue people trapped on the building's upper floors.

“Our members attach themselves to a rope and then another member goes onto the rope and goes off the side of the building, goes down to the window and grabs the person,” FDNY Chief of Operations John Hodgens explained at a news conference Friday. “This happened three times at this fire.”

The city has seen hundreds of fires linked to the lithium ion batteries that power electric bikes and scooters in the last few years. The Fire Department has repeatedly issued warnings and safety tips.

Hodgens said an apartment door of the burning apartment was left open, intensifying the fire and hampering efforts to extinguish it.

“If you could, imagine flames coming out that door and blocking off the stairwell,” he said. “Normally we go directly up to the floor above the fire, but we were even unable to get past those flames.”