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Video: 5 FDNY FFs injured after e-bike battery ignites in supermarket

More than 200 firefighters from 50 units responded to the five-alarm blaze within four minutes, according to the department


A five alarm fire destroyed the Concourse Food Plaza Supermarket at 2092 Grand Concourse and a Laundromat next door in the Bronx on Sunday March 5, 2023.

Photo/Theodore Parisienne via MCT

By Janon Fisher
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — A lithium-ion battery from an electric scooter burst into flame inside a Bronx supermarket in Fordham Heights Sunday morning, destroying the building and injuring five firefighters and two civilians, authorities said.

Stunning security video taken inside the Concourse Food Plaza, at 2096 Grand Concourse near 181st St, shows the battery ignite with shooting flames that fill a back storage area as smoke billows out.

In the footage, an employee rushes in to see what can be done, but the flames and fumes accelerate in seconds, filling the camera frame. The white-hot heat from the defective battery drives the worker from the room as it becomes engulfed.

More than 200 firefighters from 50 units responded to the blaze within four minutes around 11 a.m., according to the FDNY, but by that time the blaze was already out of control.

Firefighters on tower ladders high above the inferno could be seen in the video posted on social media dousing the roof of the massive supermarket with hoses as thick black smoke rolled skyward and red flames shot up.

They were able to prevent the flames from spreading to a neighboring furniture store, but they could not keep it from damaging a next-door laundromat, fire officials said.

“This is an extraordinary amount of damage from this one single bike,” FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said at the scene. “The entire building behind me is completely destroyed. The roof is caved in. There is nothing left, and it’s all because of this single bike.”

Kavanagh explained that after-market batteries, non-UL certified bikes and scooters or chargers that were not designed for the battery could cause what she called “thermal runaway.”

The material inside the battery cells overheats and ignites then spreads to the other cells.

“In all of these lithium-ion battery fires, it’s not a slow burn,” the commissioner said. “It literally explodes. It’s a tremendous amount of fire that’s very difficult to put out.”

The number of e-bike battery fires has also exploded citywide. From 2021 to 2022, the number of such blazes more than doubled, from 104 to 216, fire officials said.

In the first two months of 2023, there have been 22 such fires, causing 36 injuries and two deaths.

Mayor Adams showed up at the scene to urge the public to be careful when using these batteries.

“This is a real problem that we’re having in the city,” the mayor said. “What’s seen as a recreational device can be extremely dangerous. They can take the lives of innocent people.”

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