Two young sisters died after being severely burned Dec. 7 when a steam radiator in the South Bronx apartment where they were living apparently malfunctioned and blasted steam into their room.
New York Fire officials said Ibanez Ambrose, 2, and Scylee Vayoh Ambrose, 1, were found unconscious when emergency workers arrived at the temporary housing apartment for homeless on Hunts Point Avenue.
In a Dec. 8 press conference, N.Y. Fire Department deputy assistant chief Michael F. Gala said the girls had gone into cardiac arrest. They were taken to Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center where they were pronounced dead.
The deadly incident remains under investigation. Fire Department officials said that a valve on the radiator may have exploded, causing steam to blast into the room where the girls were.
The apartment is one of five in a privately owned building used by New York City as part of its cluster-site program, which provides temporary housing to homeless residents. According to the New York Times, the program is widely criticized as being “costly, ineffective and even dangerous because of poor maintenance and oversight of the buildings.”
Many of the buildings in the shelter program have numerous building code and maintenance violations. City records show the building where the girls suffered fatal injuries had 26 open violations of housing-maintenance and multiple-dwelling laws.
New York authorities are also questioning the parents. The girls’ father, Peter Ambrose, was home at the time. Mr. Ambrose told investigators that his wife left the building while he stayed home and slept, unaware of what had happened in the adjacent room where the girls were.
Mr. Ambrose told police his wife can home around 11:45 a.m., entered the girls’ room, and found them injured and unconscious.
Mayor Bill de Blasio called the incident a “freak accident” and said in a statement that the City is “in the preliminary stages of what is a highly active, multiagency investigation into what happened in this home, and whether there’s anything that can be done to help prevent such an unspeakable event in the future.”