Nearly 20 children were injured in a fire at a Queens daycare that was sparked by a lithium-ion battery on Wednesday, officials said.
The blaze broke out in the basement of the two-story house on 72nd Drive near 147th St. 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 daycare center, 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 man 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 man. “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 daycare facility was unlicensed, said a law enforcement source. Neighbors said they hadn’t known the location to be a daycare.
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 deadly 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.”