CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn (PIX11) — A fire in Brooklyn that killed three family members over the weekend was sparked by a lithium-ion battery, FDNY officials said on Monday.
The fire broke out around 4 a.m. Sunday at an apartment building on Albany Avenue in Crown Heights, officials said.
Albertha West — the 81-year-old matriarch of her family — was killed, along with her 58-year-old son Michael and 33-year-old grandson Jamiyl. Fourteen others were hurt, including a firefighter who suffered serious injuries but was expected to be OK.
The West family home and an adjacent apartment building were completely destroyed.
Fire officials said a scooter containing a lithium-ion battery exploded on the ground floor of the building and the fire quickly spread upstairs to the West family residence.
Including the West family, there have been 17 deaths related to fires caused by lithium-ion batteries so far this year, FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said. The batteries have caused a whopping 238 fires citywide this year.
“This number is staggering and it is devastating, and it underlies a problem that we have been sounding the alarm on for some time,” the commissioner added.
The city is now on track to surpass 100 total fire deaths this year, according to Kavanagh.
“That is an extraordinary number not seen in decades,” the commissioner said.
Kavanagh called lithium-ion batteries “ticking time bombs” and implored private industry stakeholders, including online retailers and food delivery apps, to do more to protect their customers.
“We have gone above and beyond to address this critical issue. We have passed legislation; we have appealed to our federal partners; we have laid out a plan for future infrastructure; our fire safety education teams are all over the city reminding New Yorkers of the dangers of these batteries,” Kavanagh said. “There is one critical thing that can be done today that is not, which is private industry can take action that would immediately save lives. There is blood on the hands of this private industry.”
PIX11’s Katie Corrado contributed to this report.