The sixth-floor apartment at 1466 Towsend Avenue in the Bronx was unrecognizable Monday afternoon.

A fire started a little after 8:30 a.m., leaving behind destruction in the unit and sending four people to the hospital.

Juan Carlos Sanchez lives in the apartment with his aunt, uncle and cousin. He was not home, but his uncle and cousin were in the apartment when the flames started. His 28-year-old cousin suffered more serious injuries and is fighting for his life.

“It’s very sad for them. They work. The lady is always working. And so is the husband,” said a neighbor who lives on their floor but didn’t want to be identified by name. “It’s really upsetting something like this happens to you in a blink of an eye.”

Sanchez says his cousin is a food delivery worker and uses an e-bike to get around. He says the battery for the device was charging and they believe that’s what started the fire. Fire officials are now trying to figure if the battery sparked the flames.

This year, there has been an increase in fires caused by e-bikes and the lithium-ion batteries they use. Between Jan. 1 and May 3 of 2022, the FDNY reported a 233% increase in those types of incidents compared to the same time last year.

Here are tips from the FDNY about lithium-ion batteries:

  • When purchasing devices, be sure that the equipment has the Underwriters Laboratories Mark. The UL mark shows that the product has been safety-tested.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for charging and storage.
  • Do not charge a device under your pillow, on your bed or on a couch.
  • Always use the manufacturer’s cord and power adapter made specifically for the device.
  • Keep batteries and devices at room temperature. Do not place in direct sunlight.
  • Store batteries away from anything flammable.
  • If a battery overheats or you notice an odor, change in shape/color, leaking or odd noises from a device discontinue use immediately. If safe to do so, move the device away from anything that can catch fire and call 9-1-1.

Here are tips from the FDNY about disposing lithium-ion batteries:

  • Putting lithium-ion batteries in the trash or recycling at home is illegal.
  • Recycle batteries by taking them to a battery recycling location or visiting for disposal instructions is always the best option.
  • Individually bag batteries or tape ends before disposing of them.