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FDNY: Dozens of lithium-ion batteries sparked Brooklyn house fire that left woman critically injured

FDNY: Lithium-ion batteries sparked fire that critically injured woman
FDNY: Lithium-ion batteries sparked fire that critically injured woman 02:17

NEW YORK -- A 67-year-old woman is in critical condition after an intense fire in Brooklyn on Tuesday.

The FDNY said the cause points to a growing danger in New York City.

CBS2 saw the aftermath of the blaze near Goodwin Place and Green Avenue in the Bushwick section of the borough. Fire investigators found dozens of e-bike batteries inside a home in a three-story building, and said they caused the fire, which broke out at around 1:40 a.m.

The FDNY said the flames engulfed the top floor of the building, trapping the 67-year-old woman. Firefighters rescued her and she is now hospitalized.

People in the neighborhood described the rapidly spreading fire.

"I looked out my window and saw flames ... and then just came out the door and saw the whole house up in smoke," Bushwick resident Allie Olson said.

"There was incredibly heavy fire on arrival," FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said.

FDNY officials discuss Brooklyn fire 07:20

Kavanagh said the cause was e-bikes and e-bike batteries -- also known as lithium-ion batteries.

Fire investigators found a total of 50 e-bike batteries inside the home after the fire on Tuesday morning. They believe someone living there was running a battery repair operation, which they said is a major hazard.

"There were also many that were charging at the time that were nobody was watching them charge, so they had charged them overnight," Chief Fire Marshal Daniel Flynn said.

Experts say you should never try to repair batteries, never use a refurbished battery and never charge your batteries overnight.

RELATED STORY: Lithium-ion battery started deadly house fire in Queens, FDNY says

Basheir Babikir, with Propel Electric Bikes in Brooklyn, says a damaged battery should only be replaced.

"If somebody comes in here and says, 'My battery is broken, can you fix it?'" CBS2's Tim McNicholas asked.

"Yeah, I mean, we don't really repair batteries," Babikir said.

He showed McNicholas how some batteries are marked that they're certified by a safety lab and how many batteries even warn people not to open them.

"These fires, I believe, like, mainly it's someone in a garage somewhere put a battery together or tried to fix it," Bibikir said.

That's why Kavanagh wrote a letter to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission asking them to seize "imported devices at the ports that fail minimum industry standards."

That letter also asks the government to ban universal chargers, as experts say you should only use the charger that matches your battery.

RELATED STORY: With lithium ion-related fires on the rise, FDNY offers guidelines for e-bikes and e-scooter users

"When these catch on fire, they burst into flames," Kavanagh said, "and there is almost no way out of your room or out of your apartment."

The problem, itself, has also been spreading rapidly as more people use e-bikes for delivery work and daily commutes.

The FDNY said the batteries caused 220 fires in 2022 and killed six people, adding Tuesday's blaze is already the 24th caused by the batteries so far this year.

"It seems like the number is doubling year by year," Flynn said.

Meanwhile, the New York City Council is considering a bill that would ban the sale of refurbished batteries.

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