Two napping girls died after they were severely burned when an apparently malfunctioning radiator let out a fatal blast of steam in their New York apartment, officials and devastated loved ones said.
Ibanez Ambrose, 2, and Scylee Ambrose, 1, were asleep in their bedroom when a valve blew off the heater in the first-floor Bronx apartment, filling the room with scalding hot steam at about 12:20 p.m. Wednesday, their aunt, Elizabeth Irish, wrote on GoFundMe.
“Both girls suffered first, second, and third degree burns on their bodies, and later died of cardiac arrest at the hospital,” Irish wrote.
Emergency responders had rushed the children to Lincoln Hospital, but it was too late to save them, police said.
The girls’ father, Peter Ambrose, had reportedly been napping in another room when their mother, Danielle Ambrose, found the tragic scene. No criminality is suspected in the incident.
Things were already difficult for the young family, as the Ambroses had reportedly fallen on hard times after moving to New York about a year ago.
“Pete and Danielle have had their share of difficulties, but have always done everything they could to provide for their girls,” Irish wrote. “Ibanez and Scylee were overwhelmingly loved for the entirely (sic) of their short lives.”
The Hunts Point building the family lives in is used to house homeless families by the Bushwick Economic Development Corp., city records show.
Four other homeless families also live in the building.
“We are devastated by this tragedy. We are investigating and taking steps to immediately transfer the four other families being sheltered at this location to another shelter," Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks told the New York Daily News.
The families were housed in that building as part of the city’s Department of Homeless Services’ cluster-site program, in which the city places families in private apartment buildings and pays the rent until a permanent solution is found.
The program has previously been criticized for allegedly putting families in dirty and, at times, dangerous locations.
In 2015, the Department of Investigation’s report on shelters labeled cluster sites “the worst maintained, the most poorly monitored, and provide the least adequate social services to families.”
There were 56 violations issued over a period of time by the DOB, FDNY and HPD at another cluster run by Bushwick Economic Development Corp., or BEDCO, which oversees the building the Ambroses were housed in, the report said.
InsideEdition.com’s attempts to reach the organization for comment were unsuccessful.
“The BEDCO Bronx Cluster... has 39 buildings that house 390 families,” the report said. “… [F]amilies are relegated to living in buildings with open City violations while the landlords continue to earn the same amount of money for them.”
There have been about 60 complaints reported for various conditions since 1995 in the Hunts Point property to the Department of Buildings, according to online records. Inspectors reportedly visited the site in June, but only examined exterior and common spaces.
The medical examiner has determine the children death was an accident and was a result of hyperthermia and thermal injuries due to exposure to hot steam, an OCME spokeswoman told InsideEdition.com.
Noting the investigation is highly active and involving numerous city agencies, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement: “Our law enforcement, buildings, fire and social services personnel will not rest until we can answer what has given rise to this heartbreaking incident."