Seven children die in house fire in New York

Siblings aged from 5 to 15 died in upstairs bedrooms after suspected hot plate fire

A firefighter surveys the aftermath of a fire in Brooklyn, New York in which seven children died. Photograph: Reuters

A firefighter surveys the aftermath of a fire in Brooklyn, New York in which seven children died. Photograph: Reuters

 

Seven children from the same family - aged 5 to 15 - died early Saturday in a fire in Brooklyn that the authorities said was caused by a malfunctioning hot plate.

The blaze was reported just after midnight in New York at a single-family house on Bedford Avenue in the Midwood neighbourhood, officials said.

Fire commissioner Daniel Nigro said a hot plate left on a counter on the first floor malfunctioned and started the fire that raced up the stairs to the second floor where nine family members were in bed.

The mother jumped out a front window.

A daughter (15) escaped out a side window. They both suffered burns and smoke inhalation.

The other seven children, ages 5 to 15, died.

“This is the largest tragedy by fire that this city has had in seven years,” Mr Nigro said. “It’s a tragedy for this family, it’s a tragedy for this community, it’s a tragedy for the city.”

ire investigators found a smoke detector in the basement of the home but none on the first or second floors. They were still looking through the rubble.

“There was no evidence of smoke detectors on either the first or the second floor that may have alerted this family to the fire,” he said.

The children slept in five bedrooms in the back rear of the house, separated from the kitchen by an open stairwell that the fire raced up, Mr Nigro said.

The survivors were closest to the front of the home.

“Firefighters forced their way in, extinguished fire on the first floor, which had started in the kitchen,” he said, “then pushed upstairs and found the children in their bedrooms.”

The children’s father was away at a conference and had been difficult to reach, he said. “It’s difficult to find one child in a room during a search,” he said. “To find a houseful of seven children that can’t be revived . . . . .”

He added that a hot plate was likely used because it was a way to keep food warm on the Jewish Sabbath without turning on the stove.

While he did not elaborate, many Orthodox Jewish families, forbidden from lighting fires during the Sabbath, keep food warm by lighting a burner on a stove before the Sabbath.

The mother was taken to Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, which has a hyperbaric chamber to provide care to patients suffering from smoke inhalation.

The child was taken to Staten Island University Hospital. Both are in critical condition, officials said.

A large, square, charred hole gaped from the front of the light-coloured house with a red roof on the snow-frosted block of Bedford Avenue at first light Saturday morning.

New York Times