At least 38 people injured in Manhattan high-rise fire

Firefighters rescue a woman trapped in a high-rise fire in Manhattan.
(Image credit: Theodore Parisienne/New York Daily News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

A massive fire at a Manhattan high-rise apartment building Saturday left at least 38 people injured and led to a massive scrambling of first responders, New York Fire Department officials said.

The fire, which occurred at 429 East 52nd Street, began around 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning, officials said, when multiple 911 callers reported seeing flames emanating from the building's 20th floor. The fire soon began to spread, trapping multiple people inside the building, and WABC-TV New York reported at least two dozen tenants went to the high-rise's roof to seek shelter from the flames. At least one woman had to be rescued by ziplining firefighters dangling off the building.

Out of the 38 people injured, at least two of them remained in critical condition as of Sunday morning.

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Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said the fire was caused by a lithium-ion battery powering a "micro-mobility device," later determined to be an electric bicycle. Chief Fire Marshal Daniel E. Flynn later told The New York Times that there were at least five electric bicycles found in the unit where the fire began.

Officials said they are working to determine whether the owner of the unit was at fault for the inferno.

Lithium-ion batteries remain one of the most common causes of residential fires, particularly in high-rise buildings. Flynn told the Times around 200 fires in New York City this year alone had been caused by the batteries, which are commonly used in consumer electronics.

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