Officials Find Cause Of Deadly Apartment Blaze

The New York City Fire Department announced last week that the deadly apartment building fire in Harlem on February 23 that killed one and injured another 17 was caused by a lithium-ion battery, CBS News reported.

The fire at the St. Nicholas Place building was so intense that residents were jumping out of windows to escape.

According to the FDNY, 18 residents were rescued by firefighters. Twelve were hospitalized due to injuries, including four in critical condition. One person, later identified as Fazil Khan, 27, died.

The NYC Department of Buildings issued a full vacate order while the residents were provided temporary housing at a nearby school.

Building inspectors, city officials, and firefighters returned to the apartment building on February 24 to investigate the cause of the blaze and assess the damage.

According to FDNY Chief of Department John Hodgens, the front door of the third-floor apartment in which the fire originated was left open at the time of the fire, allowing the flames to move into the hall and stairway, blocking off escape.

Officials said the apartment contained several lithium-ion batteries used on e-bikes and e-scooters, some of which were charging at the time the fire began.

The use of e-bikes and e-scooters has skyrocketed in the city in recent years, popular with delivery workers and commuters alike. Typically, however, the batteries that power them are charged inside apartments and sometimes unexpectedly explode, according to the New York Times.

New York provides a trade-in program to reduce the presence of unsafe batteries and retailers are required to ensure that the lithium-ion batteries sold meet specific standards of safety.

In 2023 alone, lithium-ion batteries caused 267 fires in New York City, resulting in 18 deaths and 150 injuries, according to the FDNY.

Already this year, there have been 24 fires caused by lithium-ion batteries in New York, injuring eight people.