Sunset Park Fire Likely Sparked by E-Bikes: FDNY


By Kirstyn Brendlen & Lloyd Mitchell, Brooklyn Paper

Nearly two dozen Sunset Park residents were displaced by what appeared to be a lithium-ion battery fire early on Thursday morning.

Firefighters arrived at the two-story brick building at 666 48th Street just after 3:30 a.m. to find lithium-ion batteries and e-bikes burning in the basement and on the first floor of the building, according to the FDNY. News12 Brooklyn reported that the fire may have been sparked by two e-bikes stored next to each other in the basement.

firefighters viewed through broken windows

More than 100 firefighters responded to the scene. Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

After a more than hour-long battle, the fire was brought under control just before 5 a.m. Two firefighters were transported to local hospitals with minor injuries.

According to the American Red Cross, a total of 21 residents from seven households — including 17 adults and four children — were displaced and are seeking emergency assistance from the agency.

The FDNY’s Hazmat crews were called in to safely remove the batteries and e-bikes from the scene, and the fire marshal’s office is investigating the cause of the fire.

Lithium-ion batteries, which are often used to power e-bikes and scooters, caused at least 239 fires in New York City last year, according to the FDNY — resulting in 124 injuries and 17 fatalities. Last year, two families were displaced by a fire at an e-bike shop on 7th Avenue in Sunset Park. Another fire tore through a storage facility on 63rd Street just six months later.

a person sitting on a stoop

Several people were displaced by the blaze. Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

In November, FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said the batteries are “ticking time bombs” after a blaze sparked by an e-bike killed three people in Crown Heights. The FDNY has urged New Yorkers to use only certified lithium-ion batteries and chargers, as well as to avoid storing e-bikes and scooters indoors.

Editor’s note: A version of this story originally ran in Brooklyn Paper. Click here to see the original story.

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