Sabbath Observance Leads To Tragedy: Seven Brooklyn Children Dead As Hot Plate Sets House On Fire


Religious Jews observe a number of prohibitions on the Sabbath and these include avoiding use of electricity and refraining from doing things that could be considered as work. Abiding by these religious laws to keep the Sabbath holy, however, appears to have led to a tragic incident that led to the death of seven children in Brooklyn.

Seven brothers and sisters from an Orthodox Jewish family died early Saturday when a fire tore through their home in Brooklyn after they had gone to sleep. Authorities believe the tragedy was caused by a malfunctioning hot plate the family left on in observance of prohibitions against the use of electrical appliances and cooking during the Sabbath.

Fire officials said the fire, which took more than a hundred firefighters to extinguish, was the deadliest in the city since 2007. Preliminary investigation suggest a pot was left on a hot plate overnight, overheated and caused the blaze.

Although there appears to be a smoke detector that works in the home's basement, Fire Department of New York Commissioner Daniel Nigro said none were on the home's first and second floor.

The blaze took the lives of the seven siblings whose ages range from 5 to 16 years old as they got trapped in second-floor bedrooms. It also left their mother and a sister, the only sibling to survive the incident, in critical condition. The two managed to escape by breaking through their burning house's windows.

Fire officials said that it would not have been possible for the children's mother to rescue them because of the flames. The children's father was at a conference at the time of the incident.  

"The mother would have had to go into the fire to get to the back bedrooms," Nigro said. "So I think she valiantly tried, although she was very badly burned-to get out and get help for her children. She was very brave."

Hours after the incident, the fire department went door to door in the neighborhood to hand out pamphlets on fire safety.

 "As folks keep food warm over the course of the Sabbath, unattended appliances can be dangerous," Nigro said. "We'll look for help from the community and will offer advice on how people can observe the Sabbath and do it safely."

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