Big blaze at a building in Midtown Manhattan started by a lithium-ion battery

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A lithium-ion battery sparked a fire in a Midtown Manhattan high-rise that trapped residents Saturday morning, injuring 38 people. The fire department responded to the blaze on the 20th floor. Two people had life-threatening injuries secondary to smoke inhalation. Five people had serious injuries. At least two dozen went up to the roof to seek safety away from the flames. “It was horrible, there were people hanging out of the window and everything — just terrible,” said one FDNY officer at the scene.

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Firefighters used a rope to reach windows and rescue multiple frightened residents. Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh says the cause of the fire was a lithium-ion battery connected to a “micro-mobility device,” meaning a battery-powered scooter, bicycle or skateboard. Residents who were not in the building were told to shelter in place. At least five bikes were recovered from the apartment where the fire started, and authorities believe its resident was repairing the bikes. “We also want to emphasize the rising cause of fires from e-bikes and to ensure families are following the safest possible ways to use these, including not charging them overnight when they’re asleep, including making sure they are certified and that the batteries they are using aren’t damaged in any way,” New York City Fire Department commissioner Laura Kavanagh said at a Saturday news conference.