A fire caused by lithium-ion batteries for electric bicycles killed four people in New York on Tuesday, the fire department said, sounding the alarm again about such incidents, which have multiplied.

The fire broke out overnight in a small store selling and repairing electric bicycles and skates on the ground floor of a building, in front of which a mountain of burnt debris, especially tires, rose yesterday Tuesday, a photo uploaded by the Fire Department of New York on Twitter shows.

During a press conference on the scene in the Chinatown district of Manhattan, the chief of the Fire Department in the city, Laura Cavanaugh, announced that four people died and two others were seriously injured.

It is “clear” that the fire was caused by “lithium-ion batteries and electric bicycles,” she added, clarifying that the store had already been cited for violations of safety regulations.

This is the 18th fire of this type since the beginning of the year in New York. The death toll has reached 66 injured and 13 dead in total, including those who died yesterday, according to the Fire Department.

In April, a 19-year-old and her little brother, 7, died in a similar fire in the Queens borough. Incidents of this kind have increased geometrically (44 in 2020, 104 in 2021, 220 in 2022) as the use of e-bikes and scooters by New Yorkers expands, as well as their use by meal distributors in workplaces and homes, ubiquitous in the city.

Fires in general can be caused by poor quality batteries, wear and tear due to use, carelessness when charging them. When they explode, “such a fire” breaks out that “often” the fire brigade has little time to intervene before it is “too late”, explained the head of the corps.