Hazmat removes lithium-ion batteries from Starrett City apartment building after early-morning blaze: FDNY

firefighters remove lithium-ion battery from starrett city fire
Firefighters battled an early-morning blaze that appeared to have been caused by lithium-ion batteries in Starrett City on Monday morning.
Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

Firefighters subdued an early morning fire that appeared to have been caused by lithium-ion batteries at a Starrett City apartment complex early on Monday morning.

The blaze broke out at 50 Vandalia Ave. just after 2 a.m. on July 3, according to an FDNY spox. 

Upon their arrival, FDNY personnel were met with heavy smoke coming pouring out of an apartment at the 20-story complex. Firefighters searched the building for trapped or injured civilians, but found that all residents had safely evacuated. One person was treated for smoke inhalation on the scene. 

firefighter in window of starrett city fire
One resident of the complex was treated for smoke inhalation following the blaze, but no other injuries were reported. Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

The fire was brought under control at 2:35 a.m.

Hazmat Company 1 was requested to package and remove several lithium-ion batteries, commonly used to power e-bikes, from the residence. Fire marshals are investigating whether lithium-ion batteries sparked the blaze but no official cause has been determined at this time, an FDNY spokesperson said.

Monday’s blaze came as the FDNY continued its crackdown on lithium-ion batteries across the city following the tragic deaths of four residents in Chinatown during a three alarm fire on June 20. The batteries are known to combust and cause dangerous, damaging fires, especially when stored indoors. 

Firefighters were called to a fire at 50 Vandalia Avenue just after 2 a.m. Monday morning
Lithium-ion batteries have caused more than 100 fires in New York City so far this year. Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

This year, lithium-ion batteries have caused 113 fires, injured 71 New Yorkers, and killed 13 more, according to FDNY data. In April, two e-bikes caught fire in the lobby of a Cypress Hills apartment building. Just weeks later, a blaze at an e-bike store in Sunset Park displaced two families who lived above the shop. 

The FDNY’s fire prevention teams have carried out 259 inspections related to lithium-ion battery concerns at residential and commercial locations across the city so far this year, FDNY commissioner Laura Kavanagh said Thursday.

As a result of the inspections, the FDNY has issued 523 oath summonses, 150 violations, 44 criminal summonses and 17 vacate orders.

starrett city fire
The cause of the blaze has not been confirmed, but firefighters called Hazmat to remove lithium-ion batteries once the flames were extinguished. Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

“This is a matter of safety for the public and a matter of safety for our firefighters. These fires are credibly dangerous, they involve a huge amount of fire,” Kavanagh said at Thursday’s press conference, asking the public to follow FDNY’s safety advice.“Please don’t leave these charging overnight. Please make sure you have a certified battery. Please make sure that this is not between you and the only exit to your apartment. And if you are a shop owner or a small business owner, please make sure you are operating safely.”