April 10, 2023 By Bill Parry
A 7-year-old boy and his 19-year-old sister were killed after a two-alarm house fire broke out in Astoria on Monday afternoon, according to the FDNY.
The cause of the fire was an exploding lithium-ion battery for an e-bike that had been recharging, according to the FDNY.
The fire broke out in a two-family home at 25-71 46th St. just after 2 p.m. on the first floor, where the e-bike was connected to an extension cord, according to FDNY Chief John Hodgens. The battery exploded, sending the flames up the staircase to a second-floor apartment, where a father and his four children were trapped. The father and two of his children were able to escape through a window, but the young woman and the boy were trapped, according to Hodgens. The mother was not home at the time of the fire.
“It’s a terrible tragedy,” Hodgens said at the scene after the blaze was brought under control at 3:12 p.m. “We were here in approximately three minutes —so we got here very quickly — and if this were not an e-bike fire, most likely we would have been able to put this fire out without incident.”
Instead, the first arriving firefighters were met by a wall of flames at the front door, according to the FDNY chief.
“It was a very intense fire that traveled from the front of the apartment all the way to the back. We call it ‘fully involved,’” Hodgens said. “ The firefighters did a great job of, you know, working hard to bring this fire under control but it’s just a very quickly expanding fire and it’s because of these devices that it happened.”
The fire went to a second alarm bringing 25 units and 106 firefighters to the scene.
The young woman and the 7-year-old boy were discovered in the front room of the apartment.
The fire marks the 59th city blaze caused by lithium-ion batteries so far this year, with five deaths linked to the power sources since the start of January, according to Chief Fire Marshal Dan Flynn. In all of last 2022, six people died in similar fires, he added.
“The horrific fire that resulted in the death of two young people Monday afternoon is a stark reminder of the importance of an issue the FDNY has been talking about for some time: education and awareness around lithium-ion batteries,” FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said in a statement. “We are also calling on our federal, state, and local partners to move quickly on regulations that will help ensure tragedies like today’s fire are prevented.”