Video: E-Bike Battery Fire Sunday Morning

E-bike battery fire Sunday morning, 78th & Amsterdam.

By Joy Bergmann

Upper West Siders near 78th and Amsterdam heard a different sort of snap, crackle, pop on Sunday morning around 8:48 a.m. when a lithium-ion battery on an e-bike suddenly caught fire, causing mini explosions as it burned on the street, WSR witnessed and confirmed with firefighters at the scene.

A deliverista had been riding the e-bike. He told WSR that the fire started without warning and he didn’t know why. He added that he was not injured, “I’m OK.”

Firefighters at the scene said they’re seeing increasing incidences of lithium-ion batteries causing fires.

In a recent WSR story, a Department of Sanitation official emphasized the importance of extreme care around lithium batteries and all battery disposal.

NEWS | 28 comments | permalink
    1. Richard Robbins says:

      What regulation is needed for ebike batteries?

      • David says:

        None. You can’t regulate perfect batteries.

        • Jay says:

          No, but lithium iron phosphate batteries are a lot safer, and they’re available — not just a lab demonstration.

      • Paul says:

        Cheap replacement batteries have caused numerous fires, and led to about four deaths in 2021.

        Lithium batteries are barred from cargo holds on commercial airplanes. For a good reason.

        Before a battery of that size can be marketed, we need it approved by an organization similar to the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) that reliably oks things like extension cords. And we need it yesterday.

      • Ross says:

        I imagine there exist regulations surrounding the manufacture and importation of batteries already.

      • Jay says:

        Conversion to flux capacitors. Oh wait, ….

    2. RK says:

      Li Ion batteries are inherently dangerous. Explosions can happen for various reasons, most of them come down to poor quality. Manufacturing defects, cheap chargers, poor charging software. Don’t cheap out when buying Li Ion batteries or devices that use them. Stay with major brands, UL listed if possible.

      • Jay says:

        And most certainly avoid Tesla cars/SUVs — which are known for battery fires, while e-cars from other manufacturers are not.

        • Scott says:

          “e-cars from other manufacturers are not” – GM Bolt, Chevy Cruze, and others have been impacted by well-publicized battery fires and related recalls.

          • Jay says:

            The cars you mention are safer than Teslas and also less prone to battery fires.

            Add to that Tesla has a bad reputation for quality control.

            Nor of course are the Chevy Bolt and Cruze the only other non-Musked battery powered e-cars.

    3. Torvald says:

      Had a lithium battery fire earlier this year and was out of our place for 8 months. All the warnings about lithium batteries are true. Be careful where and when you charge them.

    4. john preston says:

      This is why as much as I’d like to get one of these e-vehicles (for the convenience of getting around the city), I hesitate and refuse to -because I’m afraid of them catching on fire unexpectedly 🙁 seems you can’t trust these batteries/chargers as they’re not regulated and come from China, with little to no quality control. Everyday in this city, there’s a fire started somewhere because of one of these things charging.

    5. notsofast says:

      I counted at least three fire trucks (possibly more; it was hard to tell) at the scene. Did it really take all those firefighters & all that equipment to deal with that little fire?

      • Jay says:

        Takes specialized equipment to put out lithium fires.

        So that could explain the need for more than one fire truck.

        • Paul says:

          The FDNY never dispatches just one truck to a report of a fire because you cannot tell what the situation will be between the time of the report and the time of arrival.

          When you see a single unit on a call it’s a call for a medical emergency and not a fire.

    6. Barbara Litt says:

      Which is why these bikes SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED on the subways! Where are the cops???

    7. E.Lang says:


    8. Papa Ra'Della says:

      It’s obvious what’s happening here. The ambrochure sprocket is causing interference which in turn causes the combustion line to interfere with the flow in the dynaflow.

    9. Burgo says:

      … I continue to bring my fold up lithium battery powered bike regularly on the plane to the Outer Hebrides – crew relaxed, extinguisher close at hand …

    10. Mike Gray says:

      Ebikes aren’t the problem. No regulation of the aftermarket is a problem. While there are good aftermarket batteries out there, unregulated cheaply made aftermarket batteries bought as boosters and extra batteries to swap out as in the case of this fire, are a public menace.

      • Jay says:

        There are all sorts of problems with e-bikes, especially the throttle ones, but many of those problems are caused by the drivers driving illegally, through reds, the wrong way, and without lights at night, if they’re doing deliveries.

        The state should never have legalized throttle e-bikes without setting a speed cap of say 12 MPH.

        Then there are general separate problems with lithium ion batteries. Even the well made ones can readily catch fire if punctured, and the fires are difficult to put out.

        But correct, the poorly made batteries are more dangerous. For example you don’t see many reports of batteries for Makita or Milwaukee tools bursting into flames, but LiIon batteries have been used by cordless power tool makers for years.

    11. John says:

      E-Bikes need to be regulated, taxed and registered and insured. Its the American Way

      • Jay says:

        How about starting with a simple 12 MPH speed limit for throttle e-bikes and other unlicensed e/petrol scooters/blades?

        12 MPH is much faster than walking, and takes effort to sustain on a real bicycle when on the flat.

        Of course, the laws against running reds and driving e-scooters the wrong also need to be enforced for a change.