MIDTOWN, Manhattan (PIX11) — The FDNY warned people of the dangers of lithium-ion batteries used in e-bikes and e-scooters in the wake of a Manhattan fire that injured dozens.

The fire was caused by a faulty battery. FDNY Chief Fire Marshal Dan Flynn described lithium-ion battery fires as “like a blow torch with fire everywhere.” Flynn says they essentially explode and can send cells, that also ignite, up to 80 feet away.

The Fire Department warned people to never use a cheaper, after market battery. They also said:

  • Don’t use a battery damaged by water or excessive heat
  • Don’t leave a battery charging unattended
  • Don’t keep it by a bedroom or exit door
  • If it does catch fire, call 911 immediately.

A home fire extinguisher won’t put out a lithium-ion battery fire, Flynn said.

“Everything around them will cause a secondary fire, they’re very difficult to extinguish,” Flynn said. “They don’t need oxygen to burn.”

This latest warning coming after Saturday morning’s fire at 429 East 52nd Street. The FDNY says someone was attempting to repair a lithium-ion battery on an e-bike by the front door of an apartment on the 20th floor, and then fell asleep and left it unattended. 

More than 40 people were treated for injuries, and two remained in critical condition on Monday. The FDNY also conducted a rare rope rescue from the 20th floor to save two women inside the apartment where the fire started.

The New York City Council will hold a hearing on e-bike and lithium-ion battery safety on Monday, Nov. 14.

“Our package of legislation in the City Council is looking at addressing the really unsafe batteries, the ones that are being sold on the market that are very cheap and unsafe, and looking at better standards,” City councilman Keith Powers said.