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Lithium-ion batteries to blame for Marble Hill fire that injured 10 people, FDNY says

Lithium-ion batteries found at scene of Marble Hill fire
Lithium-ion batteries found at scene of Marble Hill fire 02:25

NEW YORK -- A suspicious fire is under investigation after officials say at least 10 people, including six firefighters, were injured Monday in New York City's Marble Hill.

The FDNY said Tuesday lithium-ion batteries were to blame for the fast-moving fire that broke out just before 2 p.m. on Marble Hill Avenue and West 225th Street. 

Residents became trapped in their homes, as black smoke and flames billowed from the building.

"Just like wildfire, it didn't stop," said Gina Christoforatos. 

The fire started under the ground floor stairwell of the 4-story building. Within seconds, flames spread to the roof. 

"These old style buildings with the wooden staircase, you get a decent amount of fire going, a nice fire load, shoots right up," said FDNY Chief Malcolm Moore. 

The FDNY deemed the fire suspicious and said they found several e-bikes being stored where the fire started. 

Juanita Sanders was in the building next door when the fire started and ran outside to help pull down the fire escape ladder with another neighbor. 

"I see the man screaming that it's a fire. He had his newborn baby in his hand," said Sanders. 

"Took a lady out of the back who slipped off the rungs and I happened to catch her, God bless. A gentleman coming out with his baby, I was happy to go up the the rungs with him and carry the baby down because he was barefoot," said Abimael Sequinot. 

On the 4th floor, Abigail Grubb was on a Zoom call for work when smoke started filling her apartment and frightened her cat. 

"I tried to get the cat into the carrier, but he slipped out of my hands and then he ran under the bed and the smoke got really bad, and I couldn't breathe and I couldn't see. So at that point I just had to go out the fire escape and hope that he was somewhere safe," said Grubb. 

Firefighters went in and searched for her cat, Walter. 

"My coworkers on the Zoom call saw the firefighters breaking the windows and looking for the cat and so they came off mute and were like 'If you can hear us, Abigail called and the cat's under the bed,'" Grubb said. 

They still haven't been able to find Walter, but firefighters did find Emily Lemp's guinea pig while she was at work. 

"I was really worried about him. Guinea pigs are not known for their survival instincts," said Lemp. "I feel much better knowing he's safe. I'm gonna figure out, I guess, how he's coming with me wherever we're going." 

The fire left 25 people homeless. 

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