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LATEST: Untended hot plate may have caused raging house blaze that killed seven Orthodox Jewish siblings

NewsBy Neil Fetherston
Firefighters stand in front of the house in the Midwood neighbourhood in Brooklyn
Firefighters stand in front of the house in the Midwood neighbourhood in Brooklyn

It is feared that an untended hot plate used to warm food on the Sabbath caused a raging house blaze in Brooklyn that led to the deaths of seven Orthodox Jewish siblings early today.

The dead children’s mother, named as Gayle Sasson , and her oldest daughter smashed through second-floor windows to escape the blaze, but could not save the four boys and three girls trapped in their upstairs bedrooms.

Neighbours heard their screams echo through the Midwood night as firefighters battled the blaze.

“I heard a child yelling, ‘Mommy! Mommy, help me!’” said teary neighbor Andrew Rosenblatt (65). “I looked out the back window, and I saw flames, smoke ... The smoke and the flames were horrendous.”

The dead boys were ages 5, 6, 7 and 11, and the dead girls were ages 8, 12 and 15 in the city’s deadliest fire in seven years, the Fire Department said.

Witnesses say mom Gayle Sasson begged for someone to help rescue her children after she jumped from a window as acrid smoke poured from the three-story home.

“I heard the mother yelling, ‘My kids are in there! My kids are in there! Get them out! Get them out!’” said neighbor Nate Weber, who lives a few doors down.

Sasson and the surviving daughter, 14, were critically injured with burns and smoke inhalation after their desperate escape from the burning single-family home.

“The mother was outside,” recalled Weber. “She was burned. She jumped out the window. There's still blood on the floor.”

The 45-year-old mom was taken to Jacobi Medical Center and placed in a hyperbaric chamber, sources said.

“It’s a tragedy for this family, it’s a tragedy for this community, it’s a tragedy for our city,” a somber FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said hours later.

The hot plate malfunctioned and started the blaze on a surface in the kitchen, said Nigro.

The plates are often used by Orthodox Jews to heat food on the Sabbath, when they are barred by religious restrictions from operating their stoves, the commissioner said.