FDNY blames charging battery for fire that killed girl, 8

Crewmembers rushed the child to an ambulance and tried to resuscitate her, but she went into cardiac arrest on the way to a hospital


Thomas Tracy
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — An 8-year-old girl died Saturday when a fire blamed on a charging e-mobility device battery ripped through her Queens apartment, FDNY officials said.

The fast-moving fire broke out in a third-floor apartment on 130th St. near 23rd Ave. in College Point at 7:30 a.m., authorities said.

The fire broke out in a third-floor apartment on 130th St. near 23rd Ave. in College Point, Queens on Saturday. An girl, 8, was pronounced dead after she and two men were transported to New York Presbyterian-Queens.
The fire broke out in a third-floor apartment on 130th St. near 23rd Ave. in College Point, Queens on Saturday. An girl, 8, was pronounced dead after she and two men were transported to New York Presbyterian-Queens. (Photo/Theodore Parisienne/Tribune News Service)

It was unclear what kind of scooter or other device the battery was designed for. As of the end of August, blazes like the deadly fire Saturday sparked by charging lithium-ion batteries had killed five people and injured 73 in New York.

Neighbors watched firefighters take the unconscious child, Stephanie Villa Torres, out of her smoke-filled apartment.

“The firefighters brought the baby out. She had leggings on — I don’t know if they were green or something similar. But she wasn’t moving,” neighbor Katy Bayas recalled, clutching her chest.

Neighbor Gen Ayala saw firefighters rush Stephanie to a nearby ambulance as they tried to breathe life back into her.

“The firefighters were trying to resuscitate her, doing CPR,” Ayala, 24, said. “They were all huddling over her and they took the little girl in an ambulance.”

Medics rushed little Stephanie as well as two men, one 18 and the other 35, to New York Presbyterian-Queens.

Stephanie went into cardiac arrest as EMS took her to the hospital, sources with knowledge of the case said. Stephanie was declared dead at the hospital, and the cause was suspected to be smoke inhalation, said police.

More than 60 firefighters were called in to put out the blaze, which was extinguished within 45 minutes.

Shortly after Saturday’s blaze broke out, one panicked resident jumped from a third-story window as he was engulfed in a pitch black cloud, witnesses said.

“There was a man in the window. It was filled with smoke, he said to call the police,” Bayas recounted to the Daily News. “That was the only thing he said. And he jumped out of the window.”

“There were women screaming for help,” witness Daniela Guevara, 18, said. “I heard a man screaming because he couldn’t get out of the house.”

The two adults are expected to survive.

A man at the home declined to comment.

The FDNY has blamed more than 130 blazes this year on batteries being recharged for use in e-bikes and other mobility devices.

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©2022 New York Daily News.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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