Seven children between the ages of 5 and 15 died early Saturday morning when a fire caused by a hot plate ripped through their home, police and fire officials said.
The siblings — three girls age 8, 12, and 15 and four boys age 5, 6, 7 and 11 — were all from the same Orthodox Jewish family, officials said.
The fire at 3371 Bedford Ave., which authorities were alerted to just before 12:30 a.m., was caused by a hot plate in the kitchen that the family had left on to keep food warm during Shabbos, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.
Many Orthodox Jewish families are prohibited by religious restrictions from turning on various devices during the Sabbath.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the hot plate itself malfunctioned or ignited something near it, Nigro said.
The fire spread from the kitchen up the stairs to where the family was sleeping.
The children’s mother, 45, and a daughter, 14, jumped out a window at the rear of the home’s second floor, Nigro said.
The mother managed to get across the street and banged on neighbors’ doors to get help before she collapsed, sources said. She was taken to Jacobi Hospital in The Bronx, where she was put in a hyperbaric chamber, in critical condition, sources and officials said.
“I think she valiantly tried, although she was very badly burned, to get out and get help for her children,” Nigro said. “Very, very brave.”
There were four bedrooms on the second floor, he added. Children were found in three of them.
“From the conditions on arrival I would say it was impossible for them to have gotten out of the room and past — the fire came up the stairs,” Nigro said. “The mother would have had to go into the fire to get into the back bedrooms.”
The surviving daughter was taken to Staten Island University Hospital, also in critical condition.
The family’s father is away at a conference, sources said. Authorities were having a difficult time reaching him as he might have his cell phone off for the Sabbath, sources said.
“This is an unbelievable tragedy,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio after he and Nigro toured the scene Saturday afternoon. “It was unimaginable what you see in there. You can literally see what was a home for a large strong family, and now it is wiped out. Every room empty and burned and charred.”
The levaya will take place in Eretz Yisroel.
Boruch Dayan HaEemes
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