New York Journalist Succumbs to Blaze Fueled by Lithium-Ion Battery

A NY journalist has died in a fire caused by lithium-ion battery, raising safety concerns and calls for stricter regulations.

Harold Thompson


Harold Thompson


Mar 13, 2024

New York Journalist Succumbs to Blaze Fueled by Lithium-Ion Battery

New York Journalist Succumbs to Blaze Fueled by Lithium-Ion Battery

A tragic death has sent shockwaves through the journalistic community following an apartment fire linked to a lithium-ion battery. According to a USA Today report, this incident has highlighted an alarming trend of similar fires in New York City after the tragic death of Fazil Khan, a 27-year-old data journalist. Khan contributed to news outlets The Hechinger Report and The City.

The fire also left 17 others injured, and theNew York Fire Department confirmed\ it was indeed caused by a lithium-ion battery. This revelation marks the continuation of a perilous pattern that fire officials have been cautioning about for months if not the entirety of last year.

These dangerous lithium batteries, often found in electric scooters and bikes, have been linked to rapidly igniting fires that pose considerable challenges to firefighting efforts. The escalation in both frequency and severity of lithium fireshas prompted calls for stricter regulations and more consumer education on the dangers these batteries can pose.

Remembrance of a Young Journalist

Sarah Butrymowicz, a senior editor for investigations at The Hechinger Report, remembered Khan for his thorough and meticulous approach to journalism, as well as his passion for data-driven journalism and his collegial spirit. According to Butrymowicz, Khan's ability to tackle complex projects with unwavering determination and a positive outlook left an indelible mark. He was also known for his generosity and innovative thinking.

Khan's death has been deeply felt within the journalism community. Both of his former employers have spoken out alongside the NYFD to help raise awareness of the tragic circumstances that led to his death. Speaking of...

Lithium-Ion Battery Dangers Come to Forefront

The New York Fire Department has actively released warnings about the hazards of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which can spark intense fires that standard firefighting tools struggle to extinguish.

Alongside the ongoing public safety campaigns, Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh has voiced concerns that devices powered by unregulated and untested lithium-ion batteries continue to find their way into the hands of consumers, despite mounting evidence of their potential risk factors.

Alarming Statistics Raise Red Flags

Fire officials signal a stark increase in the number of fatalities due to lithium-ion battery fires. With no deaths recorded in 2019 and 2020, New York City witnessed a sudden surge, climbing to 17 fatalities in the past year alone. This significant uptick in deaths serves as a stern reminder of the urgent need for consumer protection measures, product safety standards, and proactive fire prevention strategies to mitigate the risks associated with these batteries.

We here at PowerCurrents also recently covered a sobering report shared by Utility Dive that 25% of energy storage systems have critical safety defects. It turns out these flaws impact critical detection components like smoke and temperature detection. If you've ever heard of "thermal runaway" then you know those are two vital systems that you don't want to have flaws. Thermal runaway essentially causes a battery systemto heat up faster than it can cool down, and as it heats up, it melts the surrounding machinery holding the battery in check. Without smoke or temperature sensors to alert you instantly when a thermal runaway scenario is playing out, you can have as little as 30 seconds before the battery blows up.

We'll definitely be keeping an eye out on how things develop in New York... and what new lithium-alternative batteries are coming down the pipeline that might be able to provide more peace of mind than what's available today.

Source: USA Today

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