NEW YORK (AP) — A 9-year-old boy was killed and more than a dozen people were injured Wednesday in a fire caused by an electric scooter that was charging overnight, New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.
Firefighters worked “heroically” to remove 14 people from the three-story Queens building where the fire started at around 2 a.m., Nigro said, adding, “Unfortunately one of the people they removed was a 9-year-old boy who perished in that fire.”
Police identified the boy as Remi Miguel Gomez Hernandez. Nigro said the child's father suffered burns trying to rescue his son, and the other building residents were treated for smoke inhalation. One firefighter was treated for minor injuries, officials said.
Nigro said the city has seen 60 structure fires and three fatalities caused by batteries used to charge electric bikes and scooters in the past year.
“These folks had just moved in the day before,” Nigro said at a promotion ceremony for fire marshals. “They’d been charging batteries overnight. The batteries ignited and possibly exploded and caused this fire and trapped this young boy.”
The basement where the boy was sleeping had no smoke detector and may have been illegally converted to residential space, the commissioner said.
Nigro said e-bikes and e-scooters, which became legal to use on New York City streets only last year, should never be charged overnight when people are sleeping.
“This loss of life could have been prevented,” he said. “And we’ll work very hard moving forward to make this a safer city by working on how we can eliminate fires started by charging batteries.”