A lithium battery charging an electric bike caught fire in a basement apartment of a home Sunday, May 7, trapping and injuring two occupants.
Yonkers Fire Department Assistant Chief Edward Cucolo told News 12 Westchester that the apartment where the fire occurred was not up to code for a rental, so the residents had to be pulled out through a window. Firefighters had to break the windows out of their frames to be able to access the residents.
“The battery pack was in flames, and it spread to some stuff on top of the bike; and it started spreading to other areas in the apartment,” Asst. Chief Cucolo told News 12. He added that the lithium battery pack that powered the bike was still hot 20 minutes after firefighters extinguished the flames.
Fire officials often warn that lithium batteries can reignite multiple times even after the flames have been put out.
Firefighters arrived at the scene around 10:45 a.m. The two residents of the basement apartment were hospitalized for smoke inhalation, News 12 reported. Once firefighters accessed the apartment they found the electric bike and its surroundings burned and charred.
Asst. Chief Cucolo told ABC 7 New York that he has been with the Yonkers Fire Department for 30 years and has never witnessed a fire like this one before.
“Maybe you should keep these battery packs outside the house, something. It was quite a large battery. It overheated, and caught fire,” he told ABC7.
Overcharging lithium batteries may lead to overheating, fire, and explosion. Investigators said the charger in the Yonkers case had a warning to not charge overnight, but with the number of lithium-battery-powered electronic devices in our lives, it’s difficult to remember to unplug all the charging devices before going to sleep.