Mar. 20, 2023 by Dean Moses and Adrian Childress
Video by Adrian Childress
Gabriel Dolores, a Mexican native and delivery worker residing in Corona, Queens, recently purchased a second-hand lithium-ion battery through Amazon in order to continue his job with Relay. It didn’t take long before disaster struck, and his life was forever altered.
With the help of a translator, Dolores recounted the fire that broke out at his home on the morning of March 17 when the battery burst as he recharged it, igniting flames in his home that left him homeless with burned, bubbled flesh.
According to FDNY sources, 60 firefighters and EMS personnel rushed to Dolores’ 96th Street residence in Corona, Queens at 6:34 a.m. While the fire was placed under control in under 30 minutes, he was whisked to Harlem Hospital with second degree burns.
“He is very sad because he lost everything. He lost his phone and he lost whatever he had in his room. His clothing, all of the important papers. He lost everything. Basically, right now he doesn’t even have underwear. It’s an unfortunate situation for him but he said he is grateful he is alive,” Jose Rodrigo Nevares Castilla said, a member of Dario De Los Delivery Boys, who helped provide translated details the dire situation.
E-bike fires have been tearing through New York City like a knife through hot butter, leaving destruction, charred apartments, and broken hearts in their wake.
It’s just the latest danger facing delivery workers in the Big Apple, who constantly deal with the threat of attempted bike robberies and traffic collisions in the sun, rain, and sleet.
Resulting from relatively small Lithium-ion batteries, these power sources have a big impact on the lives of e-bike owners and their neighbors when these devices explode into fireballs. In a conversation with amNewYork Metro, Chief Fire Marshal Daniel Flynn said that the batteries can explode while both on and off charge. He also recommended owners only use batteries that are paired with its designated bike.
Dolores’ injuries came just days before Mayor Eric Adams signed a new package of legislation into law aiming to combat the sale and distribution of second-hand lithium-ion batteries across the city.
Left in severe pain and without medical insurance, a home or spare clothing, Dolores is currently staying at the Airway Inn near LaGuardia airport. Although the battery was not the same brand as his E-bike, he believed he did his research and purchased a certified product.
“Fortunately, he was able to wake up and escape and tell everyone that the house was on fire,” Nevares Castilla said on behalf of Dolores.
Dolores says he is also critical of the way in which Amazon delivered the product and is worried it may have been banged around and even cracked during the delivery process.
“They don’t care about their packages,” Nevares Castilla said.
With almost nothing left to his name, Dolores is accepting donations through Zelle to help him get back on his feet. For more information, contact 347-242-9365.