One firefighter was injured after lithium-ion e-bike batteries sparked a three-alarm fire at a Sunset Park storage facility on Sunday.
According to the FDNY, the fire alarm at the Stop & Store self-storage building at 534 63rd St. was triggered around noon on Oct. 22. Firefighters initially discovered three e-bikes on fire inside one of the storage units, said FDNY Assistant Chief Michael Meyers. As they searched the upper floors of the four-story building, New York’s Bravest quickly discovered dozens of e-bikes and lithium-ion batteries on fire inside two other storage units and escalated the blaze to a three-alarm.
The building’s sprinkler system kept some of the fire contained but quickly became overwhelmed by the size and scale of the fire, Meyers said. At least 138 FDNY personnel responded to the scene in an effort to contain the fire and remove the hazardous bikes and batteries. One firefighter suffered from smoke inhalation after his mask was knocked off in the midst of the blaze and was brought to NYU Langone—Brooklyn for treatment.
Meyers said there were up to 300 e-bikes inside the storage units. Firefighters pulled dozens of bikes and batteries out of the building, according to an FDNY representative, and placed the batteries in fireproof drums on the sidewalk. The fire was brought under control just before 2 p.m, and the FDNY fire marshal’s office is still working to determine the exact cause of the blaze.
Lithium-ion battery fires have killed more than a dozen people in New York City this year and injured many more, according to the New York Times. The batteries — commonly used to power electric bikes and scooters — are prone to exploding and causing large, hard-to-control fires, especially when they are damaged, charged, or stored incorrectly. According to the FDNY, once one battery ignites, it often causes other bikes and batteries stored nearby to catch fire, too.
Last month, a lithium-ion battery exploded in a Kensington apartment, causing a devastating fire that destroyed an asylum-seeker’s critical documents. In April, an e-bike fire at a Sunset Park bike store displaced two families who lived above the shop.
“When fire suppressant systems were designed a long time ago, no one had e-bikes or e-batteries in mind,” Meyers said on the scene. “So what happens is these fire-suppressant systems, they’re not designed to put out the copious amount of water it takes to put out e-batteries or any kind of electrical fire … it overwhelms the sprinkler protection system.”