Seven Children Perish In Brooklyn House Fire; NYFD Suspects That a Hot Plate, a Sabbath Loophole, Is To Blame March 22, 2015

Seven Children Perish In Brooklyn House Fire; NYFD Suspects That a Hot Plate, a Sabbath Loophole, Is To Blame

Because I wrote about it at the time, I’ve always remembered the dozens of fires that broke out during the early months of 2005 in Bedford Gardens, Brooklyn, a big apartment complex. That would have had to be the work of a serial arsonist, right? Not so:

A fire caused by stovetop burners left on for Passover killed three boys as it whipped through a Brooklyn apartment before dawn yesterday, a few hours after the family had gone to bed at the end of a night of feasting, singing and celebrating. …

A fire official said that the Orthodox Jewish custom of leaving a flame burning during Sabbath and holidays has caused 35 kitchen fires at Bedford Gardens, the 600-unit apartment complex in Williamsburg, in the last several months.

Now, close to that same location, it’s happened again, and most likely for the same reason. This time the fire, which started early Saturday morning, engulfed a single-family house. Seven kids burned to death. The number of victims means that it’s the largest fire tragedy that New York City has seen since 2007.

Seven children were killed in a fire that tore through a family home in New York City’s Brooklyn borough early Saturday. …

The children, between the ages of 5 and 15, were all members of the same family and lived in the predominantly Jewish Orthodox neighborhood of Midwood. The children’s mother and a teenage daughter survived, but were rushed to hospital in a critical condition.

A NYFD spokesperson [said] that the cause of the fire is still under investigation, but preliminary findings suggest it may have been sparked by a hot plate left on in the home’s kitchen. Many Orthodox families that are forbidden from using electronic equipment on the Sabbath use a hot plate to keep food warm.… [A]uthorities have found no evidence of smoke alarms on the first or second floors of the home.

The father was reportedly away at a conference. New York’s fire commissioner said that attempts to reach him were unsuccessful. Orthodox Jews avoid dialing or picking up the phone on the Sabbath.

My condolences to the dad and and the other survivors.

(Image via Shutterstock)


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