This past Saturday morning seven children were killed in a horrific fire. The three girls and four boys ranged in age from five years old to 16. Their mother and sister were able to escape the fire from jumping out the window. The mother, Gayle Sassoon 45 years old, has 45% of her body burned and sister, Tzipara 14 years old, broke many bones and inhaled a lot of smoke. Both were sent to the hospital in critical condition. The father, Gabi, was at a religious conference in Manhattan during the fire and was not aware until hours later. The family is a part of the Orthodox Judaism faith and they have restrictions on electronic devices, this would be why he did not know about the tragedy until much later. Needless to say he is devastated. According to the New York Daily News after he found out what had happened to his family he fell to his knees and cried.

Gabi and Gayle met in Israel after she got divorced, after they got married they had eight children and lived in Israel for many years. The identities of the children were, according to USA Today, Eliane, 16; Rivkah, 11; and Sara, 6; and boys David, 12; Yeshua, 10; Moshe, 8; and Yaakob, 5. Two years ago is when the family moved to Brooklyn, New York but were considering moving back to Israel before the fire. Officials have said that this the worst fire the city has seen since 2007.

Fire officials believe that the fire was caused by a hot plate that malfunctioned. They were using the hot plate to keep the food warm because of the 25 hour Sabbath which does not allow people to cook. There was one fire alarm in the house but it was in the basement. After this tragedy officials encouraged people in the Orthodox community to be sure that their hot plates were working properly and to be sure to have working fire alarms. The fire fighters arrived four minutes after the call was made, but sadly it was still too late. Sassoon was screaming for them to get her children out and neighbors have said that they heard the children screaming for their mother.

The children had a funeral service in Brooklyn happened Sunday afternoon at chapel that serves for their religious community and then the bodies were going to travel to Israel to be buried and will arrive around two in the afternoon Monday. Sadly, their mother and sister are still in the hospital in critical condition from their injuries from the fire. The neighbors had nothing but good things to say about the Sassoon children. They were well behaved, beautiful, and overall the family was well liked by their neighbors. The children will be missed by their community and family. From USA Today “I call this not a tragedy but an absolute disaster,” said state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who represents the district. “Everyone’s in utter shock.”

Photo: Peter Foley AP