NEW YORK—A fire that killed a mother and two daughters in New York City was apparently sparked by homemade vape dispensers that the father of the family was assembling to sell, officials said.
The fire broke out shortly after 2 a.m. on May 9 in an apartment in the East New York section of Brooklyn. Police said a 36-year-old woman and a 17-year-old girl were killed, and relatives told the Daily News that a 10-year-old girl died later from injuries suffered in the fire.
Investigators at first suspected arson because an accelerant was found at the scene, but it appears that the substance was being used to make vape dispensers, Chief of Detectives James Essig said on May 10.
“Guy’s making products, catches fire somehow,” Essig said. “Now, is that criminal? That’s still to be determined.”
The fatal fire happened amid growing concern in the city about fires linked to the lithium ion batteries that power electric bikes and scooters.
A fire caused by a lithium-ion battery killed two people in upper Manhattan on May 7, officials said. Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said on May 9 that the batteries have sparked 76 fires so far this year, killing seven people and injuring 60 others.
Officials have urged New Yorkers not to use off-market batteries for e-bikes and scooters and not to charge them at night when people are sleeping.
“We want to continue reminding New Yorkers of the safety messaging around these devices, and awareness surrounding the best practices for having these devices in your home,” Kavanagh said.