A three-alarm house fire started by a lithium-ion battery in a New York City brownstone on Sunday left a family of three dead and 14 others injured, including a firefighter, according to reports.
The fire, which occurred at the intersection of Albany Avenue and Park Place in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, began inside a brownstone at roughly 4:30 a.m. local time and spread to adjoining homes, The New York Daily News reported.
The cause of the fire was deemed to be a malfunctioned lithium-ion battery, which the FDNY confirmed to ABC affiliate WABC.
According to WABC, FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said 17 people have died in N.Y.C this year as a result of lithium-ion battery fires, referring to them as “ticking time bombs” in people’s homes. A Crown Heights brownstone photographed up in flames while firefighters attempt to control the blaze.
“There is blood on the hands of this private industry- both the online retailers who continue to sell these illegal devices to this day– and the food delivery apps who continue to think that this problem will solve itself,” Kavanagh said.
The fire began on the ground floor of the home but went on to engulf the rest of the three-story property, creating intense smoke and flames, per WABC. Albertha West, 81, her son Michael West, 58, and her 33-year-old grandson, Jamiyl, were killed in the blaze.
Most of the other injured individuals were treated for smoke inhalation and released, according to the station.
“This was a difficult and dangerous operation,” Chief of Fire Operations John Esposito said in a statement shared on the official FDNY Instagram. “When you have heavy fire on multiple floors of a building, it is time-consuming to extinguish. We had to stretch multiple handlines to each floor. It’s a very dangerous operation for our Firefighters. At the same time, while we are trying to extinguish the fire, they’re doing searches on the floor with the heavy fire and above that. We removed three critically ill adults.”
It is still unclear if smoke detectors were present and functioning in the home.
“We came here from Grenada and they were sweet — welcomed us, made us feel so comfortable. I’m reeling right now, you know?” neighbor Jason Thompson told WABC about the West family’s kindness.
The Crown Heights fire happened the same weekend that the FDNY also battled a sizable blaze in the Little Italy neighborhood of Manhattan, where a six-story building was engulfed in flames, forcing 40 people to be evacuated, per CW affiliate WPIX.
Nine firefighters were injured while fighting that Sunday evening fire, the outlet reported.