More Than 27,000 People Lose Power in New York at the Height of the Heat; Mother and 7-Year-Old Daughter Die in Heat-Related House Fire

More than 27,000 customers were without power in New York City and Westchester as the third day of dangerously hot weather continued to grip the region, officials said. Fire officials said the soaring temperatures also may have contributed to a Queens fire that killed a mother and daughter.

With temperatures over 90 degrees by 8 a.m., about 100 firefighters fought the heat and the flames Sunday morning as a blaze tore through a house in Richmond Hill in Queens, killing a mother and her 7-year-old daughter, and critically injuring the woman’s two teenage sons. Fire Department officials said they were investigating whether the fire was linked to the family’s air conditioner, which neighbors said was located on the first floor.

The police said Silvia Umana, 51, lived in the home with her daughter, Lupe Perez, and two sons, whom neighbors identified as Gilbert, 19, and Gabriel, 15. The younger boy escaped out a second-story window and was rescued by firefighters.

“They always complained about how hot their house was,” said Tiffany Elahie, 14, a friend of the children who lived a few doors away.

It was a tragic coda to a sweltering heat wave that began on Friday, with temperatures that hovered consistently in the mid-90s. In some neighborhoods, the heat index was more than a dozen degrees higher.

New York fire officials said they had expanded emergency service crews in anticipation of a surge in calls, and since Friday had responded to more than 230 heat-related incidents, the majority involving older patients.

Across the five boroughs, many New Yorkers stayed inside — and cranked air conditioning. But by Sunday night, Con Edison was reporting more than 27,000 customers were without electricity; most of the power failures were in Brooklyn.

“It is the third day of the heat wave, so the system is really baking at this point,” said Alfonso Quiroz, a spokesman for Con Edison.

According to its power failure map, Con Edison customers in Gravesend were expected to have power returned by 10 p.m. on Sunday. But in Park Slope and Queens, the company estimated residents could be without power until Monday afternoon.

P.S.E.G. Long Island had wrestled with its own power failure on Saturday night that left thousands without power in the Rockaways.

By Sunday night, both companies were asking customers across neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens to limit the use of electrical appliances. Con Edison said it had reduced voltage by 8 percent in affected areas to protect equipment and maintain service as repairs were made.

“Because the heat is still so heavy today, if customers could alleviate some of the stress to the system it would help overall,” said Elizabeth Flagler, a P.S.E.G. Long Island spokeswoman.

Mr. Quiroz said Con Edison had hit “record high-power demand” for a weekend.

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SOURCE: New York Times, Ali Watkins and Ashley Southall