As a hot plate warmed d food in a Brooklyn kitchen, allowing an Orthodox Jewish mother to prepare food for her family while she and eight children slept let to the city’s deadliest fire in eight years. Flames that started in the kitchen ripped through the entire home, trapping seven children ages 5 to 16 in their bedrooms, as their mother and 15-year-old sister, jumped out of the second-floor bedroom windows. They were the only two to survive the devastating fire.
Authorities have blamed an unknown malfunction in the electronic hot plate as the culprit of the fatal fire, a device often used by observant Jewish families to keep food warm from sundown on Friday to the start of the Sabbath. Mayor Bill de Blasio arrived at the scene early Saturday afternoon and walked inside the shell of the house alongside firefighters.
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“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, adding: “This is a tragedy that has very few examples to look at, it’s so painful, it’s so difficult,” the New York Times reported.
On Saturday, investigators found a smoke detector in the basement of the home however had not found any on the first floor, where the fire sparked, or the second, where the family was asleep. “We believe there were none,” Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said. “That’s always a tragedy in itself.”
Shortly after midnight, flames began to fly off the large hot plate on a first-floor kitchen counter, near the back of the home. On a day of rest, it would have been one of the few electrical appliances in the neighborhood that was on – a neighborhood with many large Orthodox families in the Midwood section of Brooklyn.
Their father was at a religious conference, and due to the Sabbath prohibition on electronic communication, he was not made aware of what happened until several hours after the fire.