ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – A house caught on fire on May 4, 2023, at 1:30 a.m. after an electric bike powered by a lithium-ion battery was left charging unattended.

The house is located on West 5th Street near Grove Park in the city of Elmira and went up in flames fast according to the occupants. The fire was caused by a neighbor who also lived in the residence but no charges have been filed against the suspect.

The fire caused damage to the second floor of the home and the exterior leaving all the residents homeless.

Cecilia Peters the disabled occupant and her seven cats fled the scene with her caretaker. Five of her cats are being treated and cared for by Compassionate Companion Care.

Cecilia said all this happened because she was trying to help a friend. “For years he had been working on these e-bikes and stuff for years and you know trying to make a little money on the side”

She added she forgives the person but they all could have lost their lives and she’s grateful they had angels protecting them.

Assistant Chief of the Town and Country Fire Department Dirk Wheeler said, “If the battery fails, it’s going to probably cause a fire because they are such high-efficiency batteries, they can store a large amount of energy in a very small space. So when they fail, it’s very bad.”

He added, We always tell people, the best thing that you can do is prevention. Before anything happens, you want to make sure that you have working and properly installed smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and a fire extinguisher in your home. Knowing how to use the fire extinguisher, and also having an escape plan. For everybody in the home.”

Lithium-ion Battery Safety;

  • Never leave any battery unattended while charging
  • If a battery is cracked, changes shape or color, is hot to the touch, or has a burning odor it should be disposed of.
  • Make sure it is disposed of properly, don’t just put it in the trash

For more information click here or contact your local fire department with any questions.