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FDNY rescues woman and her dogs from Jamaica house fire believed to be sparked by exploding e-bike battery

Mar. 20, 2023 By Bill Parry

Firefighters rescued a woman and several of her dogs from a house fire in Jamaica Monday afternoon and, once again, an exploding lithium-ion battery on an e-bike is suspected of sparking the blaze, according to FDNY.

The fire broke out in the cellar of the two-story home at 111-12 153 Rd. at around 3:38 p.m. on March 20 and rapidly spread throughout the two-story residence just east of Sutphin Boulevard.

Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

EMS rushed the woman to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center for treatment and several dogs were rescued during the blaze and carried away by the woman’s neighbors.

More than 60 firefighters from 12 units brought the blaze under control at around 4:54 p.m. and fire marshals are working to determine the cause, according to the FDNY.

Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

The house fire broke out just hours after Mayor Eric Adams signed five pieces of legislation into law that will help reduce fires caused by lithium-ion batteries. The mayor’s plan focuses on four key areas:

  • Promoting and incentivizing safe battery use
  • Increasing education and outreach to electric micro-mobility users
  • Advocating for additional federal regulation of these devices
  • Expanding enforcement against high-risk situations

Mayor Adams also signed five bills into law to further regulate lithium-ion batteries sold in New York City and strengthen fire safety related to battery fires.

“Today, we are supercharging safety for all of our e-bikes and e-scooter users,” Adams said. “These are convenient transportation options for New Yorkers, but faulty and illegal devices are making their way into our homes and streets, causing fires and putting lives at risk. Through promoting safe devices, expanding education, increasing enforcement on high-risk situations and pursuing additional regulation, I’m proud that New York City is leading that charge. E-bikes and e-scooters are here to stay, and with this plan and these five pieces of critical legislation I’m proud to sign, we are going to ensure that they are safe for all New Yorkers to use.”

Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

Lithium-ion battery-linked fires doubled between 2021 and 2022 — rising from 104 to 216 fires in one year — with injuries also doubling, and six people died last year. They’ve already caused two deaths and 40 injuries in the first two months of this year, according to the mayor’s office.

“Fires caused by e-bikes and the lithium-ion batteries they rely on have increased dramatically in our city, with deadly consequences for citizens and first responders,” FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said. “It is a problem we are tackling aggressively with our partners in the city, state and federal government. We are grateful to the mayor for signing these bills into law and to the City Council for passing legislation that supports the FDNY in addressing this critical safety matter.”

Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

Councilman Robert Holden sponsored one of the bills that were signed into law by the mayor on Monday. Intro. 722 will require the FDNY to submit five reports relating to fire risks and powered mobility devices, such as e-bikes and electric scooters. Reports will include data on fires during the previous year caused by these devices and recommendations for changes to changes to the administrative code to further decrease fire risk.

“Lithium-ion batteries have become a real danger, causing massive fires and fatalities, displacing people and threatening public safety,” Holden said. “Our city must take action, and this package of bills is a step in the right direction. I’m proud to have recently introduced a bill requiring registration, licensing and insurance for e-bikes and scooters. I thank the speaker and mayor for their leadership in addressing this pressing issue.”

Councilman Robert Holden watches as Mayor Eric Adams signs his bill into law at City Hall Monday, March 20. (Courtesy of mayor’s office)

— Additional reporting by Lloyd Mitchell

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