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Friday Night Fire Claims the Lives of 7 Jewish Children

A malfunctioning hot-plate is believed to have caused a Friday night fire that claimed the lives of seven Jewish children – all members of the same family, ages 5 through 15 – in the Midwood section of Brooklyn. Only the mother and one 14-year-old daughter survived.

From the NY Post:

A malfunctioning hot plate ignited a Brooklyn inferno that left seven children dead, and their mother and another sibling in critical condition, officials said.

A mother and her eight children — four boys and four girls ranging in age from 5 to 15 years-old — were in their Midwood home when the fire began in the kitchen just after midnight Saturday. Flames and deadly smoke quickly spread to second floor where the youngest kids were sleeping, authorities said.

A child’s cries of, “Mommy, Mommy, help me!” could be heard outside the blazing two-story brick home, a neighbor told The Post.

The mother, Gayle Sassoon, 45, and her 14-year-old daughter, Tzipara, jumped from second-floor windows to escape the flames.

Sassoon, her hands and feet bloodied, screamed, “My kids are in there, get them out! Get them out!” neighbors said.

The rest of the children were in five upstairs bedrooms in the rear of the two-story brick home. They were identified as Yakob, 5; Sarah, 6; Moshe, 8; Yeshua, 10; Rivkah, 11; David, 12; and Eliane, 15.

“The smoke and flames were horrendous. You couldn’t even see the house,” said Andrew Rosenblatt, 65, who called 911 at 12:23 a.m. to report the fire.

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro called it “the largest tragedy by fire that this city has had in seven years.”

The hot plate might have been turned on before sundown Friday and left on to keep food warm, authorities said. Observant Jews avoid turning on ovens or electrical appliances once Sabbath begins.

Neighbors described the family as “very religious” and “ultra-Orthodox.”

There were no smoke detectors on the first and second floors of the house at 3371 Bedford Ave, officials said.

“It’s a tragedy for this family. It’s a tragedy for this community. It’s a tragedy for our city,” Nigro said.

Two boys, ages 5 and 6, were pronounced dead at Beth Israel Hospital. An 8-year-old girl was pronounced dead at the scene, while her 15-year-old sister was pronounced dead at Maimonides Hospital.

Three siblings — a 12-year-old girl and her 7- and 11-year-old brothers — were pronounced dead at New York Community Hospital in Brooklyn.

Sassoon was taken to Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx, and her surviving daughter to Staten Island University Hospital North. They are in critical condition with burns and smoke inhalation.

The father was at a conference and authorities “are having trouble locating him,” Nigro said.

Sassoon grew up in the Bedford Avenue home, said neighbors, who added that Sassoon and her husband recently moved back to the United States from Israel, where they had lived since 1998.

Neighbors fear for Sassoon.”I don’t know if she makes it through this. I don’t know how she’s going to face what happened to her family,” said a friend who gave her name only as Bonnie. “I pray that she has the sanity.”

Sassoon and her kids were active in the community, Bonnie said.

“They used to wash cars before Passover. She’s very involved in the community. It’s a terrible loss,” she said, adding that Sassoon was “a beautiful girl.”

Neighbor Nate Weber said he couldn’t handle the sight of the young children being wheeled away on stretchers.

“I just turned away. I didn’t even want to look,” he said.

Firefighters had a difficult time finding the children, Nigro said.

“To find a house full of children that can’t be revived, I’m sure this will take its toll on our members for quite some time,” he said.

The only smoke detector in the house, Nigro said, was in the basement.

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

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  • 1. Shabbos? wrote:

    Since when does posting articles on shabbos constitute an emergency? I bet this dosent get published?

    • 2. Webby wrote:

      And you are commenting on Shabbos?

      The editor who posted this [myself] is located in Israel where shabbos already ended.

  • 3. maintenanceman jacob wrote:

    very scary. I’m thinking either the hot plate was one of those cheap no-brand-name chinese imports ordered online or the outlet haven’t been updated in decades and was wearing out.

    a battery operated smoke alarm costs $5 at home depot, that includes the 9V battery. Buy it, stick or screw it to the wall or even let it sit unobstructed somewhere on a table… that’s all it takes to avoid these needless tragedies

    • 4. Fire Inspector wrote:

      I asked a fire inspector why commercial buildings need sprinklers and houses where children sleep dont. He said, its all financial. But he told me that EVERY BEDROOM NEEDS ONE!!! This article should be a lesson to everyone, get a smoke alarm in any room someone might fall asleep in.

      Also, common sense to have one in the hallways, stairways, kitchen etc.

      We should only share good news in the future.

  • 6. To No 1 & 2 wrote:

    I live in London, England, and I too was wondering how this was posted as appeared to be on Shabbos! No 2, you may be the editor and live in Isreal, but as you see, not everyone knows that! Be careful of moris ayin!!!
    May you never have to post such tragedies and may we see Moshiach NOW and bring an end to all of the horrible tragedies happening to klar yisroel!

  • 10. neighbor of 2 blocks wrote:

    The children were ages 5-16, not 5-15. The surviving daughter is 15, not 14.

    Horrible just the same. BD”E!

  • 11. Mommyof5 wrote:

    Seven Jewish children die a horrible death, their mother lays in critical condition, and the father has no idea that his family is gone and all you people are concerned about is that the article might have been published on Shabbos?? I don’t even have words.

    • 12. Shabbos wrote:

      Just one shabbos and we’ll all be free….
      If every Jew keeps one shabbos, moshiach will come immediately. So yes, it does make a difference because universal shabbos observance would mean no more tragedies.

    • 13. CH'er wrote:

      Thank you. The most decent comment. Shabbos, Smoke alarms !!! REBONOI SHEL OLAM. 7 CHILDREN WERE BURNT ALIVE. RACHMONOS

  • 14. motti wrote:

    This should not have been posted before the father was told! What is the toeles? Does he know yet?

  • 15. I'm crying. What's the mom's name? wrote:

    BD”E an entire generation of this family wiped out.
    Anyone know the mother’s full name for tehillim?And the father? He too needs our tefilos to overcome this churban.
    Oy Aibishter! We need Moshiach! Your children are desperate!

  • 16. to #7 wrote:

    The 14 year old that survived or the 15 year old that died in the fire?

  • 18. tehillim needed for Gila bas Tziporah wrote:

    Please daven for the mother Gila bas Tziporah who is in critical condition

  • 20. to #10 mommy wrote:

    abolsutely agree – the stupidity of questioning when it was posted and the need to even know the reason is beyond lame & warped.
    I have no words.
    Webby – I would have like to see you respond “non of your business” only b/c I am so sad about this horrible tragedy and have no words – absolutely tragic.

  • 21. fire wrote:

    My parents also had a fire in their home. B”H everyone is safe but the smoke detectors were exposed to such high heat they melted before they even went off.. Maybe they need to make fire proof smoke detectors.

  • 23. Tehilim needed wrote:

    PLease post the names of the daughter & father So we can say Tehilim for them also

  • 24. Crown Heights Resident wrote:

    How do we know that the Smoke Alarms weren’t completely destroyed by the fire.

    • 25. Elliot wrote:

      Because people who actually studied fire science know how to look for them in the aftermath of a fire.

  • 29. To the big shot critical commenters wrote:

    There has been a fire disaster of historic proportions here in Brooklyn. A time will come for pointing fingers of blame, BUT THIS IS NOT THAT TIME.

    Please get down from your high horses and quit playing “Monday Morning Quarterback,” showing how brilliant YOU are — that YOU have the nice, neat explanation of what happened here and YOU’RE so smart that it would never happen to superior old YOU. How cruel, cold, and the- opposite-of-humble of you!!!!

    And this is almost Pesach, when we try to rid ourselves of being “puffed up”!!!!

    Whatever happened to Dan L’Kaf Zechus?????? How can you be so smug and sure??? The full investigation has not yet taken place!!!!!

    When the time is right and all investigations are completed, whatever we need to know will be told. BUT AGAIN, NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO POINT FINGERS OF BLAME!!!!!

  • 30. this is horrible!!!!!!!! wrote:

    i’ve never heard such a horrible story!!!!!!! mashiach NNNNNNNOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 34. Missed the point wrote:

    The one to point a finger (or a hand) at is Hashem! This is what he wanted so that’s why the smoke detectors did not work . nothing happens against his will and if it happened it was because he willed it! therefore the question and the blame and the Y should be pointed at Hashem! How do you watch a couple do your bidding, and create a beautiful Torah living family and then snuff them out in one blow?????

    • 35. Tipshus wrote:

      Stop spreading Narishkeiten. The smoke alarms didn’t go off because there weren’t any. It is the responsibility of all parents to put smoke detectors in all floors of their houses.
      Leave Hashem’s Cheshbonos to him, because this tragedy was preventable.

    • 36. Tipshus wrote:

      Stop spreading Nareshkeiten. The smoke alarms didn’t go off because there weren’t any. It is not up to you to tell anyone what Hashem’s cheshbonos are or are not. It is the responsibility of all parents to install smoke alarms so that PREVENTABLE tragedies like this don’t happen. That’s all you need to worry about.

  • 37. fire safety wrote:

    Please publish an article for those of us who do not know (Baal T’shuva) from the people who do, from experience. How to keep food warm safely? How to leave food on a blech safely? What about ovens? Hot plates? What are the dangers? How to prevent the problems?

  • 39. to #34 wrote:

    Please be careful how you talk
    We all should demand the golus, but we also need to understand that we don’t understand the ways of HAshem
    AD MOSAI>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>?????
    mOSHIACH now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 40. Chaim wrote:

    Sad Day in Brooklyn
    one part of brooklyn 7 Nashomos pure and holy were lost .
    onthe other part of brooklyn Hate Groups comming distry the life of 7 Jewish Nashomos.

    remembering the dark days of marches in Crown Heights in 1991
    numerous African Americans and Caribbean Americans of the neighborhood, joined by growing numbers of non-residents, rioted in Crown Heights

  • 41. myriam wrote:




  • 43. Va'Yidom Aharon wrote:

    Someone pointed out on the YWN comments on this story, that this happened rosh chodesh nissan shabbat va”yikro (korbonos) exactly the same day when the Fogel family (6 children) were murdered by terrorists. When Aaron Hakohen lost his two tzadikkim in A FIRE FROM HASHEM.
    We need to daven that Hashem gives the family strength to recover physically and emotionally.

  • 44. Mushka wrote:

    BDE my heart is breaking!!!!! I am very concerned about how this happened and to check our hot plate for any recalls or safety issues :( we have the one from Amazon that Isra Heat makes…does anyone know anything about this one and as far as the Chinese imported ones that are apparently a safety hazard I think we as a community need more specific information so we can prevent future tragedies. Should I have the hot plate on a timer? I’m so scared now. just can’t believe this happened! Ad mosia?!! May the surviving neshamas be given the strength from above and within the walls of our community to be comforted during this unbelievably hard time.

  • 45. Omg wrote:

    Died on Shabbos 7ppl the 7th day of the week day of rest while they were resting

  • 46. Shomer SHabbat with safety wrote:

    This was sent to the mayor of NYC and the Chief of the Fire Dept.

    As a former resident of NYC – I strongly believe that an immediate temporary ban – @ least in NYC where most of this type of units are sold/used – should be put on the Shabbat ELECTRIC hot plates of all sorts (usually made/sold from/in Israel BUT NOT UL listed etc. – and maybe made in china). until it’s proven to be safe and safety instructions will be included in numerous languages.

    We bought one (from a Kingston Ave vendor -with an online presence, – unit distributed by IsraHeat – and named such – of Saddle River NJ 07458 – but no tel listed for them anywhere… ) – when it arrived the the west coast the mechanism/heating elements inside – this very simply designed unit – came broken, after numerous calls to the vendor – instead of replacing the unit ..he had the CHUTZPA to send me just the new elements and told me to install it myself…it’s been 3 years since I put it in the garage it’s still in there – notwithstanding the fact that I am a pretty decent handyman I felt that I should not tamper with such sensitive electronic item that has a serious fire hazard involved and is primarily used on a day we don’t use fire or even put out one G-D forbid….but now I will take it back and demand a refund, or file a lawsuit just to make my point.

    Again; I am calling on the Mayor and the Fire department to ban them until further investigation as to their safety – to me they look like a Basement or Garage design….(I do realize we dont know – and may never know – if this weeks disaster was caused by wrong use ie: dry food, towel covering pots etc. or wire/unit etc malfunction).

    here’s one comment on Amazon
    I love the size of this Shabbos hot plate, but it’s so hot it burns my food! I put a towel on it to reduce the heat and it burned a hole right through it. I wish I could find how to contact the company.

  • 47. 43b wrote:

    from this we all learn to CLARIFY AND VERIFY before making a judgement. You should apologize.
    all we should be doing now is an extra mitzva, esp. in the area of bein adom le chavero.

  • 48. against tipshus wrote:

    How dare you say a thing like that hashem wanted it to happen shame on you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  • 49. sad wrote:

    A whole family died in a fire, and a few people are worried when this article was posted, whats the difference, it could of been posted after Shabbos

  • 50. Andrea Schonberger wrote:

    Baruch Dayan Emet. What a tragedy this is especially now when we’re supposed to be happily and busily preparing for Pesach. I fail to understand how the innocent can have their lives shortened when horrible critters like Charles Manson are alive and well and living on the bounty of the government. We need Moschiach now!

  • 53. Pettifore wrote:

    Although my heart goes out to this family this is yet another example of very educated people lacking in common sense. The house was 90 years old, there were 10 people mostly young children living there and only one smoke alarm in the basement? The father should have been on top of this. That is only common sense.


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