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A child and a teen die in 'explosion of fire' caused by a lithium-ion e-bike battery
Image source: FDNY

A child and a teen die in 'explosion of fire' caused by a lithium-ion e-bike battery

Two young people died in an "explosion of fire" in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens Monday in a blaze caused by an e-bike's lithium-ion battery, according to FDNY officials and local news outlets.

"The way these fires occur, it's like an explosion of fire. The occupants have very little chance of escaping," said FDNY Chief of Department John Hodgens from the scene of fatal two-alarm fire in Queens.

Officials said the heavy fire condition started on the first floor and traveled directly up the stairs.

Of the six occupants upstairs, four were able to jump out the windows and lived. Two others did not survive.

Officials did not immediately release the names and ages of the individuals who died. Neighbors told the New York Times the victims were siblings, a 7-year-old boy and his 19-year-old sister. The mother was reportedly not home at the time.

The e-bike was parked in the first-floor vestibule at the front door when the fire started.

Chief Hodgens said it appeared an extension cord had been run from the upstairs apartment to the bike. The bike was apparently being charged using an after-market charging device, ABC News reported.

Lithium-ion battery fires have increased dramatically in recent years. The FDNY offers several safety tips and important pieces of precautionary advice on the dangers of the popular, rechargeable batteries used in electric bikes, scooters, cars, laptops, and other common devices here.

An e-bike fire in a Bronx grocery store injured seven people and gutted the store on March 5, the New York Post reported. The quick-moving, five-alarm fire required 50 units and more than 200 firefighters to put out. Five firefighters suffered minor injuries in that blaze.

The FDNY shared photos on its Twitter account that showed ladders leading to the second floor of the home where Monday's fire occurred, the charred remains of the bike, and the battery believed to have started the fire.

"We had a terrible tragedy today," the FDNY tweeted.

"Today’s fire marks our 59th fire this year caused by a lithium-ion battery. Today, unfortunately we have had our fifth fatality this year as a result of lithium-ion batteries," said Chief Fire Marshal Dan Flynn in statement accompanying the FDNY's Instagram post on the deadly blaze.

"We want people to use them, but we want people to use them safely. We want people to purchase chargers that are compatible with the devices that they purchase. Do not buy the cheapest device," Chief Flynn said.

"We lost two people today; we were fortunate not to lose six."

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