NEW YORK — Eighteen children were injured Wednesday in a fire that was sparked by a lithium-ion battery at a Queens day care, officials said.
The blaze broke out in the basement of the two-story house in Kew Gardens Hills around 2:05 p.m., according to the FDNY.
“It was a lot of smoke coming out all of the windows,” said neighbor Adina Landon.
The first floor of the house is a day-care facility, police said.
“Companies arrived and found heavy fire in the basement,” said FDNY Chief of Operations John Esposito.
Firefighters removed 18 children from the house, where one was critically injured. The others suffered minor injuries and were treated at the scene.
One of the injured children was rescued from the basement, the FDNY said.
A woman who lives on the block said a neighbor took in the children as they waited for their parents to arrive.
“There were firemen, paramedics all over the place and the kids were already out,” said the woman. “I’m sure some of them were scared.”
The fire was placed under control around 2:45 p.m., according to officials.
City officials were investigating whether the day-care facility was unlicensed, said a law enforcement source. Neighbors said they hadn’t known the location to be a day care.
On Friday in the same borough, a man was killed and 10 others were hospitalized when a charging e-bike sparked a fire.
The blaze was the first fatal fire of the year attributed to the batteries used in e-bikes and electric scooters. Last year, six people died in fires caused by the batteries.
Esposito told reporters Wednesday the fire department encourages lithium-ion battery users ensure their products meet industry safety standards.
“They should not be charged in the entranceway or pathway to leave your apartment and you should not charge them overnight,” the chief cautioned. “The best might be to charge them in a room with a closed door while you’re awake and alert and at home.”
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