NYC fire that killed 8-year-old girl blamed on scooter battery

The fire that swept through a multifamily home in Queens on Saturday morning, killing an 8-year-old girl, was caused by a faulty battery for an electric scooter, according to the FDNY.

The fire broke out on the third floor of the house on 130th Street in College Point at around 7:35 a.m., authorities said. 

New York City firefighters found Stephanie Villa Torres, 8, unconscious and unresponsive. She pronounced dead at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Queens. Her father and brother were treated for burns and smoke inhalation, officials said.

Fire marshals determined that the fire was accidental and was caused by a "lithium-ion battery from an e-mobility device."

Authorities have blamed at least 130 fires from lithium batteries so far this year. In the last two years, fires started by batteries for e-bikes and e-scooters have killed at least nine people and hurt dozens and dozens more. 

Just last month, a scooter battery fire killed a 36-year-old woman and a 5-year-old girl in East Harlem.

Council Member Oswald Feliz, the chair of the council's Fire Prevention Task Force, said low-quality batteries — such as refurbished or uncertified power cells, are causing what he called a "fire safety crisis."

He has sponsored legislation that would require e-scooters and e-scooters sold in the city to have certified batteries.

"The gold standard would be the Underwriters Laboratory, a nationally recognized testing laboratory that has a process for confirming and verifying whether an e-bike battery has the tools to prevent malfunctions that lead to fires," Feliz said.

So many fires are started by lithium-ion batteries that earlier this year the FDNY and FDNY Foundation produced a PSA and a poster (see below) with safety tips on handling the batteries.

With FOX 5 NY's Arthur Chi'en and The Associated Press.