A man has been charged with reckless endangerment after chemicals that could possibly be used to make explosives were found inside his Queens home Tuesday night, hours after a fire broke out at the address, law enforcement officials said.
Earlier in the afternoon, a man at the Astoria address was taken to the hospital with burns on his hands as a result of the blaze, according to police. As police and fire officials were at the scene, the landlord of the building flagged down firefighters to take a look inside some boxes inside the man's home, a police source told NBC New York.
Marak Squires, 37, was identified as the man charged, law enforcement officials said. On Thursday, law enforcement sources told News 4 the fire started because he had a box next to his stove that caught fire. He tossed it, trying to douse the flames, and it landed in his living room, which then also caught fire.
Investigators are looking into whether he was a "prepper" type, as in someone who purchases various items in preparation for the end of the world, the sources said. They're waiting to access his computer and other electronics to be sure there were no potential nefarious reasons for the volume of items found.
As much as 40 pounds of potassium nitrate was found in his home along with some fuses a senior law enforcement official said. Potassium nitrate, a chemical sometimes used to removed tree stumps, is legal to buy and own, and is a lesser compound than the more powerful ammonium nitrate. Police were looking into whether the potassium nitrate could be used to make explosives.
Two police sources said written materials on bomb-making were found at the location, but the senior law enforcement official said there was no indication that any explosives were being built or that there was any plot underway.
A senior police official said the man who was taken to the hospital had arrests in his past for minor offenses, and may have been emotionally disturbed.
Authorities say they're working to obtain a search warrant for the man's electronic devices as a precaution. The FBI is assisting in the investigation, which is being led by the NYPD.