WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, Manhattan (PIX11) – Two people have died after suffering injuries in a Washington Heights apartment fire that was caused by a lithium-ion battery on Sunday, officials said.
The fire happened at a five-story apartment building on West 190th Street around 1 p.m., according to the FDNY. Officials said the fire was “fast-moving” and “extremely destructive.”
Four people were pulled from the building and initially hospitalized in critical condition. Two of the victims have since died, officials said Tuesday. The other two victims remained hospitalized in “extremely critical condition,” according to FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh. Officials haven’t released the identities of the two victims who died.
One of the victims injured Sunday was a 98-year-old woman affectionately known as “Mamita,” who has lived in the building for more than four decades, neighbors told PIX11 News.
“A lot of people were crying because we knew her and we knew her family,” said neighbor Valery Tabares. “All of a sudden, they were bringing out the people … They were all unconscious. They were just there. And then they started doing CPR.”
Investigators determined the fire was caused by a lithium-ion battery. There were multiple lithium-ion batteries found around an apartment, according to Kavanagh.
So far this year, seven people in New York City have been killed in fires caused by lithium-ion batteries, already surpassing the total from 2022, officials said.
“It is quickly becoming one of the leading causes of fire deaths this year,” Kavanagh said. “These fires are extremely dangerous. They create a large volume of fire very quickly and present significant threats to New Yorkers who are trying to get out of their homes and to our members as they respond to these calls.”
PIX11’s Katie Corrado contributed to this report.