A seven-year old boy and a 19-year-old girl died in a fire that erupted Monday afternoon in Astoria, the FDNY said.

Fire officials say a lithium-ion battery in an electric bike sparked the blaze. There have been 59 fires caused by lithium-ion batteries this year, and five people have died, according to the FDNY.

The "heavy" fire broke out at a two-story brick home on 46th Street near 28th Avenue just after 2 p.m., John Hodgens, the FDNY's chief of department, said at a press conference on Monday. The fire occurred in the first floor of the building in the vestibule, and immediately traveled up the stairs.

There were six people upstairs, including a father and five children, Hodgens said. Four people jumped out the window, but two did not, and they died. The mother of the children was not home at the time of the fire.

Firefighters arrived at the scene within three minutes, according to Hodgens.

"If this was not an e-bike fire, most likely, we would've been able to put this fire out without incident," Hodgens said. "But the way these fires occur, it is like an explosion of fire, and these occupants have very little chance of escaping."

John Hodgens, the FDNY's chief of department, is pictured at a press conference on Monday, April 10, 2023 in Astoria, Queens.
John Hodgens, the FDNY's chief of department, is pictured at a press conference on Monday, April 10, 2023 in Astoria, Queens. (NY1 Photo)

Hodgens says that the occupants did not have a chance to escape the building because an e-bike was stored near the front door.

Dan Flynn, the FDNY’s chief fire marshal, added that an after-market charger and an extension cord were used to charge the device, and the bike was likely charging when the blaze started.

"We want people to purchase chargers that are compatible with the devices that they purchased. Do not buy the cheapest option," Flynn said at a press conference after the fire. "Make sure that what you buy is compatible with the device."

In a statement, Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh called the fire "horrific" and noted it was "a stark reminder of the importance of an issue the FDNY has been talking about for some time: education and awareness around lithium-ion batteries."

"We know people have e-bikes and similar micro-mobility devices, and we are imploring users to follow all manufacturer safety guidelines and recommendations. We are also calling on our federal, state and local partners to move quickly on regulations that will help ensure tragedies like today's fire are prevented," Kavanagh said.

The FDNY advises against charging a lithium-ion battery under a pillow, on a bed, near a door or on a couch. They also suggest using the manufacturer's cord and power adapter made specifically for the device. When charging, batteries should never be left unattended.

Batteries should be kept at room temperature and away from direct sunlight, according to the FDNY. They should not be near anything flammable.

Finally, if a battery overheats, emits an odor, changes shape or color, leaks, makes noises, the FDNY instructs that one should have a plan to escape and call 911.