Soundview NYCHA fire caused by e-battery kills one, injures others: FDNY

An FDNY spokesperson told the Bronx Times that a lithium-ion battery was to blame.
An FDNY spokesperson told the Bronx Times that a lithium-ion battery was to blame.
File photo/Dean Moses

A Sunday evening fire that ripped through a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) building in Soundview and killed one person was caused by an e-battery, according to the FDNY. 

According to Amanda Farinacci, the FDNY’s associate commissioner, 25 units and 100 emergency personnel responded to a fire at the Bronx River Houses NYCHA complex in Soundview after a call came in around 7 p.m. A 39-year-old man was reported dead by the next morning.  

Farinacci said there were four other people injured from the fire who were treated and transported to medical centers, and five more who refused medical attention.

Responders concluded the blaze had started on the 10th floor of the 14-story building and confirmed on Monday it was caused by a lithium-ion battery — the type of batteries that power most e-bikes and e-scooters. According to the FDNY, the man who died is one of 18 who have been killed by lithium-ion batteries just this year. His name has not yet been released. 

E-bike fires continue to cause New Yorkers concern, especially since they can’t be snuffed out with a fire extinguisher, according to FDNY safety information.  

A lithium-ion battery was suspected in another recent blaze last month — a fire that started in the basement of the Hong Kong Chinese restaurant in Melrose on Nov. 9. Fire officials confirmed that batteries were removed from the scene, but couldn’t say for sure whether they were to blame. 

In addition, in June the FDNY attributed an apartment blaze that injured nine people in Concourse Village to an e-battery — the kinds of batteries that power most e-bikes. That same month a fire also engulfed an e-bike shop in Manhattan’s Chinatown, killing four people and injuring three others, including a responding firefighter.

Earlier this year, Mayor Eric Adams announced legislation to combat lithium-ion battery fires and promote safe use of e-bikes and other “micromobility” devices, and other Bronx pols have also been at the forefront of regulation. 

City Council Member Oswald Feliz — who represents District 15, including Allerton, Fordham and East Tremont — said at a press conference earlier this year that he witnessed a lithium-ion battery fire destroy a supermarket in the Grand Concourse area, asserting that he “think(s) it is clear that many of these batteries are problematic.” 

Fordham University also banned e-scooters, e-bikes and e-skateboards across university property citing fire danger last year, and state Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz announced in the spring that he’d be championing two bills that would regulate the use of low-quality lithium-ion batteries.

– Emily Swanson contributed to this report

Reach Camille Botello at [email protected]. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes