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5-year-old girl, woman killed when scooter or e-bike battery sparks fire at East Harlem apartment, FDNY officials say

Woman, 5-year-old killed in East Harlem fire caused by e-bike battery
Woman, 5-year-old killed in East Harlem fire caused by e-bike battery 02:02

NEW YORK -- Investigators are revealing the cause of an early morning deadly fire in East Harlem. 

An e-bike's battery sparked the explosion that killed two people, including a 5-year-old girl, at the Jackie Robinson Houses on East 129th Street. 

Police say the child's father remains hospitalized in critical condition. 

As CBS2's Astrid Martinez reports, 

The fire ripped through the sixth floor apartment early Wednesday morning, tragically trapping the young girl, her father, his girlfiend and three dogs inside their home. 

"People were knocking on doors. Like, we're a tight knit community, so they started knocking on doors and letting everyone know," said Miriam Rodriguez. 

Rodriguez woke up to devastation early Wednesday morning. She described the scene after the fire broke out across the street from her home. 

"Chaos. Complete chaos," she said. 

Police say just after 2:30 a.m., disaster struck on the sixth floor of the Jackie Robinson Houses. Inside the building, a torched electric scooter and black soot were found in the stairwell,. 

New York fire marshals confirm the e-bike's battery ignited the explosion outside the apartment's front door, blocking three residents from escaping. 

Firefighters are brought out a second charred scooter and hoverboard from the building. 

"We all used to ride our bikes he was the reason I bought my e-bike," Rodriguez said. 

The blast took the life a 5-year-old girl. Authorities say her father remains in the hospital in critical condition. 

"I used to do childcare, and I used to take care of her," Rodriguez said. "I used to change her diapers." 

Police say the 46-year-old man's girlfriend also died. She was 36. 

"I just saw her, like, literally saw her yesterday because I own a food truck and we were parked up the street and she was walking by with her two beautiful daughters. And they waved 'Hi.' And for her to be dead hours later, it's just horrible," said Andrielle Jackson. 

"It's a very sad day in our neighborhood," family friend Carl Williams told CBS2.   

Williams lives in the complex. He said he didn't see the flames but woke up to the terrible news. 

"A pretty young lady, would run around playing like any other kid would do. He took care of his kids," he said. "I really feel sad for him. I hope he pulls through. Sad that his daughter and his girlfriend didn't make it."

"He had two electric scooters and one gas scooter. All three of them were in his apartment," Williams added. "Very cool, nice guy. It's just sad that this happened to him and his family."  

The family's three dogs also passed away.   

Another person as well as a firefighter were taken to the hospital for minor injuries. 

The fire was contained to the victim's apartment. 

Astrid Martinez contributed to this report. 

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