De Blasio: deadly steam blast was 'freak' accident

The horrifying deaths of two young sisters, apparently by a blast of steam into their Bronx apartment while they slept, is being called a 'freak' accident by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Speaking to reporters, de Blasio said the city was conducting a "rigorous" investigation into what happened with a radiator valve Wednesday that sent an "extraordinary" amount of steam out.

He added that the apartment had been inspected last month.

The NYPD said Scylee Vayoh Ambrose, 1, and Ibanez Ambrose, 2, were found unconscious and unresponsive with steam burns to their torsos inside their home at 720 Hunts Point Avenue on Wednesday.

"The two kids essentially got doused with scalding steam, and they were still alive at the time. By the time they reached the hospital, they were deceased," a police source told the NY Post.

The girls were napping when the steam blast occurred.

Neighbors said their father tried to perform CPR on the children after the incident. They were rushed to Lincoln Hospital just after noon but it was too late to save them.

De Blasio said Thursday that a "pained silence" filled the air when officials -- surrounded by signs of a "warm and loving household" -- visited the apartment.

The father, Pete Ambrose, a tattoo artist and his wife, Danielle, are from Maine and reportedly became homeless after moving to the city about a year ago.

Four other homeless families live in the building.

Residents told Fox 5 News that they often have trouble with excessive heat coming from shower heads and kitchen sinks as well as very hot temperatures sporadically coming from the radiators.

"We will certainly be looking at Building Department records, previous complaints, outstanding complaints, current complaints," said FDNY Chief Michael Gala.

Fire officials are looking into the possibility an exploding valve lead to the radiator malfunction.

The Buildings Department was on the scene after the incident. An investigation into exactly what happened continues.

"We are devastated by this tragedy," said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. "We are investigating and taking steps to immediately transfer the four other families being sheltered at this location to another shelter."

On Wednesday, de Blasio said in a statement that city agencies would get to the bottom of the incident.

"We are in the preliminary stages of what is a highly active, multi-agency 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," de Blasio said. "Our law enforcement, buildings, fire and social services personnel will not rest until we can answer what has given rise to this heartbreaking incident."

With the Associated Press