Investigators: Fatal Schuyler Street fire ruled accidental, caused by reptile heat lamp

By WKTV News

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The cause of the deadly May 9 fire on Schuyler Street in the City of Utica that killed a mother and three of her children has now been ruled accidental.

During the course of the nearly month-long investigation, fire investigators with the Utica Fire Department excavated all fire debris within the structure, reconstructed the fire scene and used arc-mapping to determine the area of origin.

The area of origin was determined to be in a room centrally located in the first floor apartment, which fire investigators are referring to as the dining room. After determining the area of origin, fire investigators collected physical evidence to submit for forensic analysis.

Due to the fact that the building was not insured, Oneida County District Attorney Scott D. McNamara authorized the funding for the forensic analysis. Without this analysis, fire investigators would not have been able to eliminate or confirm electrical components as a potential cause of the fire.

The electrical components collected from the fire scene were submitted to Forensic and Failure Analysis of Syracuse. Forensic engineers examined the electrical components and determined the cause of the fire was due to the use of a reptile hearing lamp attached to an aquarium in the first floor dining room.

Therefore, fire investigators said, the cause of the fire was ruled accidental.

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