Watch CBS News

Police: Lamp used to grow marijuana likely caused deadly Yonkers fire that displaced dozens of families

Police say marijuana grow lamp sparked deadly Yonkers fire
Police say marijuana grow lamp sparked deadly Yonkers fire 02:40

YONKERS, N.Y. -- Yonkers Police believe an electric heating lamp used to grow six marijuana plants likely caused a deadly fire at an apartment building Wednesday.

The fire forced more than 90 families from their homes, including one who is now fearing for their child's health.

READ MORE: Officials: 1 dead, several injured in fire in Yonkers apartment building

Renhaye Lindsay-Morgan, her husband and their 14 month-old baby, Elham, are one of nearly 100 Yonkers families who lost their home Wednesday when the Mona Lisa co-op on Bronx River Road went up in flames. 

"We basically lost everything," Lindsay-Morgan said.

Their baby suffers from short bowel syndrome and had just gotten home after a year in the hospital for surgeries and rehab.

"We were just hoping that at this point he could come home and get to enjoy everything that was already set up for him," Clayon Morgan said.

"And then this happened and we're displaced, so it's really tough," Lindsay-Morgan said.

Elham is so medically fragile, he had barely been exposed to the outside world. Now, the family has to take shelter in a hotel.

"There's so many people that've been through there. It's like, OK, how much can you even protect him while he's here?" Lindsay-Morgan said.

  • For more information on how you can help the Lindsay-Morgan family, click here.  

The fire was so devastating it left a 67-year-old resident, Michael Damiano, dead.

Friday, Yonkers Police determined the fire's likely cause was an electric heating lamp being used in a first floor apartment to cultivate six marijuana plants.

"That's even more shocking, hearing something like that, knowing it's been happening right up under your roof," fire victim Michele Williams said.

Since the state has yet to release guidelines on home cultivation, there is a $125 penalty for growing marijuana at home. The police and District Attorney are now reviewing if that resident could also face charges since this resulted in a fatal fire.

"We're going to start to see more and more of this because of the fact that these rules are not put in place," Mayor Mike Spano said.

But many of the displaced residents claim some of the building's fire alarms and escapes were not working.

"The fire alarm did not go off. We just smelled smoke," fire victim Peter Spano II said.

"The fire escapes also was a huge, huge problem. We could not get them engaged to go down," fire victim Patrick Smith said.

CBS2's Ali Bauman brought this to the management company, Metropolitan Property Services.

"Some of the tenants were saying the fire alarms weren't working, the fire escapes weren't working. Is that true?" Bauman asked.

"We had a large meeting here before, and right now what we're trying to do is concentrate on the stability of the building and the safety of our residents," said Jonathan Dessner, with Metropolitan Property Services.

As these families now scramble to find new homes, this fire is still under investigation.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.