Fatal Brooklyn blast thought to be gas explosion was arson, FDNY says

Posted at 4:26 PM, Dec 05, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-05 18:26:38-05
By Lawrence Crook


NEW YORK (CNN) — An October explosion that killed two and injured more than a dozen others in a Brooklyn residential building was arson, fire marshals have concluded.

New York City Fire Department investigators initially believed the incident could have been a natural gas explosion — witnesses told fire crews they had smelled what they believed was natural gas near the site of the blast. But fire marshals determined that a flammable liquid had been used. That liquid was determined to be gasoline, FDNY spokesman Jim Long told CNN.

Francisca Figueroa, a 48-year-old tenant of the building who died in the explosion, had purchased gasoline and brought it into her second-floor apartment before the blast occurred, said Long.

Gasoline was found in several different areas of the apartment building, Long said.

“Information obtained since then, and confirmed by examination of the building gas meters, found that there was no natural gas flowing to the second-floor apartment since June 26,” Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said in a statement.

Figueroa was in the process of being evicted from her apartment because she was months behind on rent, and she reportedly texted her children farewell messages prior to the explosion, according to CNN affiliate WABC.

Since Figueroa died in the blast, a specific motive likely will remain unknown, Long said.

Another woman also died in the blast, but it was not known whether there was any connection between the two victims. Thirteen tenants and bystanders were injured.

CNN’s Sarah Jorgensen and Dominique Debucquoy-Dodley contributed to this report.