E-scooter battery in the frame after fire in Bronx supermarket

In a potentially worrying development for underwriters of a key emerging risk, at least seven people have been injured in a fire in the Bronx neighbourhood of New York City thought to have been caused by a lithium-ion battery, according to fire officials.

A civilian and an emergency services worker were seriously injured, and five firefighters received minor injuries, the New York Fire Department (FDNY), according to reports.

The fire started in the roof of the rear part of a single-level commercial building on Grand Concourse and 181st Street, according to the New York Police Department.

FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh told reporters that the cause of the fire was a lithium-ion battery, which powered a scooter.

“In all of these fires, these lithium-ion fires, it is not a slow burn there’s not a small amount of fire, it literally explodes,” Kavanagh said. “It’s a tremendous volume of fire as soon as it happens, and it’s very difficult to extinguish and so it’s particularly dangerous.”

Kavanagh said firefighters arrived at the fire around 10.41 a.m., under four minutes after the first call. All seven of those injured in the blaze are considered stable, she said.

 “We have been able to not have a loss of life today, but there is extraordinary damage. This entire building behind me is completely destroyed,” Kavanagh said. “The roof is caved in, there’s nothing left, and it is all because of this one single bike.”

The commissioner said more investigation needed into why the bike burst into flames. 

The scooter was parked inside the rear part of a grocery store. Officials said it’s not yet known who owns the bike.