Brooklyn, New York, House Fire Kills Seven Children
NYFD: 'No Evidence of Smoke Detectors' On Floors Where 7 Died
Seven children were killed in a house fire in Brooklyn, New York, early Saturday in one of the deadliest blazes in the city in recent years, fire officials said.
The victims, all siblings between 5 and 15 years old, died at local hospitals after being taken from the home on Bedford Avenue in the borough's Midwood section, the Fire Department of New York said.
Their mother and another child escaped and were in critical condition, suffering from burns and smoke inhalation, the FDNY said. One is at Staten Island University Hospital North, while the other is being treated at Jacobi Hospital.
"This is the largest tragedy by fire that this city has had in seven years," FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro told reporters. "It's a tragedy for this family, it's a tragedy for this community, it's a tragedy for the city."
Nigro said the mother and surviving child were able to break windows and escape. "They were toward the front of the home and the younger children were toward the back," he added.
Firefighters were called at 12:23 a.m. ET and arrived in less than three and a half minutes, the FDNY said. A hot plate in the kitchen appears to have been the cause of the blaze, which quickly spread from the first to the second floor through an open stairway, Nigro said.
"I believe it's Sabbath. People keep food warm that way — they don't have to operate a stove," he said.
A smoke detector was found in the basement, but there was "no evidence" of smoke detectors on the home's first or second floor, he said.
Neighbor Nate Weber told the New York Post that he saw children being wheeled away on stretchers. "I turned away. I didn't even want to look," he said.
Weber said he heard the children's mother screaming for help. "I heard a woman yelling: 'My kids are in there. Get them out. Get them out!"' he told the Post.
Midwood is an ethnically diverse community with a large population of Orthodox Jews. Officials have not yet identified the victims of Saturday's fire, and said the children's father is away at a conference and hasn't been easy to reach.
"It's difficult to find one child in a room during a search. To find a houseful of children that can't be revived, I'm sure this will take its toll on our members for quite some time," Nigro said.
The fire is the believed to be the city's deadliest since March 2007, when seven children and their mother were killed inside their Bronx home. An eighth child later died at the hospital.
— Andrew Rudansky, Alastair Jamieson and Elizabeth Chuck