Seven Children Die in Brooklyn House Fire, Worst Since 2007

AP Photo/Craig Ruttle
AP Photo/Craig Ruttle
New York, NY

The failure of a hotplate was the cause of a tragic fire that took the lives of seven Brooklyn children, the worst such tragedy in New York City since 2007.

Firefighters responded to the blaze on Friday evening but were too late to save the lives of seven children, ages five to sixteen, who died after being trapped on the second story of the home.

Officials say that the fire started after a hotplate malfunctioned sometime around midnight on Friday night. The hotplate was on the first floor as the Sassoon family slept on the second floor.

Like many Orthodox Jewish families, the Sassoon’s used their hotplate to cook while observing the Sabbath. Sadly, this time the device was the cause of disaster.

On Saturday afternoon, Mayor Bill de Blasio visited the scene of the disastrous blaze. “You can literally see what was a home for a large, strong family and now it’s wiped out, every room empty, burned and charred,” he said to the cameras. “This is a tragedy that has very few examples to look at, it’s so painful, it’s so difficult.”

Fire investigators said they found a smoke detector in the basement of the building, but they did not find any on the upper floors.

The family matriarch Gayle Sassoon and her second oldest daughter escaped the conflagration, but seven children died in their bedrooms. Eliane, 16; Siporah, 15; Rivkah, 11; Sara, 6; David, 12; Yeshua, 10; Moshe, 8; and Yaakob, 5, all died in the flames. The family’s father was away at a conference and didn’t find out about the disaster until late on Saturday.

Mrs. Sassoon was able to escape the flames engulfing the 90-year-old, wood-frame structure but was unable to save the children. Siporah, an older daughter, also succeeded in escaping the burning home.

It was the worst fire in a single family home since a 2007 incident in the Bronx where nine children and one adult perished.

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