A 28-year-old Connecticut woman threw a flaming bottle of hand sanitizer at her girlfriend during a fight, igniting a fire that spread through a five-story apartment building, killing one person and critically injuring four others, officials said Monday.
Destiny Waite has been charged with murder, arson and four counts of first-degree assault, officials said.
Hartford Police Lt. Paul Cicero said during a news conference Monday that Waite and her girlfriend were involved in a "domestic verbal and physical altercation" in their second-floor apartment when Waite hurled a hand sanitizer bottle "that was lit on fire" at her girlfriend. The fire then spread throughout the 68-unit building.
The Hartford Fire Department responded to the blaze within one minute of it being reported at 1:22 a.m., said Assistant Fire Chief Rodney Barco. He said residents were "hanging out the windows."
The fire was elevated to a 2-alarm by 1:25 a.m., and shortly thereafter declared a 3-alarm fire, with every company in the department responding, Barco said.
Flames were jumping from the windows, and fire officials were getting reports of multiple people trapped. But heavy smoke and the structure and shape of the building made "fighting the fire very difficult," Barco said. He added that a second simultaneous fire in the city split resources, creating a further challenge.
The apartment building blaze was not completely extinguished until after 5 a.m. More than 45 people were rescued, and more than 30 people were taken to hospitals, NBC Connecticut reported.
After firefighters believed everyone was rescued, they searched the building twice, finding a deceased victim on the second floor during the last search, officials said. He has been identified as Jerome Kyser, 50. The medical examiner's office classified the death as a homicide due to smoke inhalation, Cicero said.
Waite and Kyser do not appear to have known each other.
The four assault charges Waite faces are directly tied to the four people who were critically injured, two adults and two children, Cicero said. Two of them had to be airlifted to a hospital, but all were stable as of Monday. They had all suffered from smoke inhalation.
Some firefighters suffered minor injuries like a sprained ankle and strained back, Barco said.
Waite's girlfriend was not injured and cooperated with police, giving them enough information for them to arrest Waite, Cicero said.
At her court appearance Monday, Waite was ordered to be held on a $1 million bond, increased from $900,000.
Waite's attorney said his client wasn't even in the building when the fire started, NBC Connecticut reported. The lawyer said the girlfriend had caused harm to herself and looked to frame Waite.
NBC News reached out to Waite's attorney Wednesday morning but did not immediately hear back.