Sunset Park storage fire draws attention to danger of lithium-ion batteries
SUNSET PARK — E-bikes were the culprit of a three-alarm fire that began in a Sunset Park storage facility this past Sunday afternoon, according to FDNY officials, injuring one firefighter in the process.
The flames erupted at around noon in one of the units at the Stop & Stor self-storage building at 534 63rd Street, where dozens of e-bikes and scooters were stored.
News 12 reported that the first three FDNY units on the scene had to cut open the metal door to get into the building, and there was heavy smoke inside. Once inside, they found three e-bikes on fire, and worked feverishly to prevent the spread to other bikes.
Fire officials said they ultimately discovered as many as 300 bikes and batteries from an adjacent second unit – many of them in boxes.
FDNY Engine 241/Ladder 109 was the first company to arrive on the scene.
“We came in right away — and saw smoke coming in from under the unit’s gate,” a firefighter told the Brooklyn Eagle on the condition of anonymity. “But their sprinkler system just isn’t enough — those lithium-ion batteries — those cheap batteries from China — they need to be snuffed out,” he added.
“We had an injury — a guy from our engine — his mask was dislodged, and he hurt his knee as well. But he was given some oxygen, sent to the hospital, and he’s OK. It could have been a lot worse.”
Stop and Stor’s website has a list of items not allowed, including flammable materials, and anything that can explode or catch fire. However, it doesn’t specifically list e-bikes or lithium-ion batteries.
An employee at Stop and Stor, who would only go by “Rui,” said “You’re really not supposed to leave bikes in your units, but there is honestly no way of us checking; it’s an honor system.”
The fire follows hundreds happening more frequently across New York City in recent years, just one day ahead of the city council’s hearing of two bills that would require delivery platforms to provide workers with certified e-bikes and safety equipment.
According to FDNY stats, this year lithium-ion batteries have caused 214 fires, 116 injuries, and 14 fatalities.
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