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Mother, 3 Children Killed In Brooklyn Chanukah House Fire

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A mother and three of her children who had gone to sleep after celebrating the sixth night of Chanukah died early Monday morning when a fast-moving blaze — likely started by their menorah — swept through their Brooklyn home, fire officials said.

The four family members were trapped by an inferno on the second floor of the Sheepshead Bay home as the fire climbed from one floor to the next — and the husband and father of the victims desperately tried to rescue them.

Despite his heroics, Yosi Azan was unable to save them and was left badly burned. He was clinging to life on Monday at Staten Island University Hospital.

He and two of his other children suffered critical injuries. Another son and a cousin were in stable condition.

“Tragedy strikes at this time of year, and as I say before, this time of year makes it that much sadder,” FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. “Four people died here, a mom and three children. The father, who acted very courageously, got two teenagers out safely.”

Firefighters only reached the victims after the raging blaze was extinguished.

They found the bodies of the mother Aliza Azan, 40, and her 3-year-old daughter, Henrietta, together in a bedroom on the second floor. Two sons — Yitzah, 7, and Moshe, 11 — were found together in another bedroom on the floor.

Neighbors said that on each night of Hanukkah, the father, mother and their six children used oil to light a large menorah in a living room window that faced the street.

Nigro said the FDNY had not definitively determined what started the fire but the menorah was a “possibility.”

On Monday, as investigators sifted through the charred remains of the home, a team of fire marshals dug soot from where the candles had been placed.

Nigro praised Yosi Azan, saying the father got two teenaged children out of the house before he went back into the blaze in hopes of saving his wife and other kids.

“He was able to get out of the second floor, severely burned, tried to get back in to save the rest of his family, the ones he didn’t already save,” the commissioner said. “We believe he acted very courageously and tried desperately. Hopefully, it didn’t cost him his life also.”

At Staten Island University Hospital, where family and friends had gathered to pray.

“His breathing is difficult. It’s more than just burning,” said Pini Shaool, 46, a friend at the hospital.

One of Azan’s sons and a cousin who had been sleeping on the first floor suffered only minor injuries. Another child broke his pelvis while jumping from a window, officials said.

Yosi’s 16-year-old daughter, Shalit, and 15-year-old son Daniel, remained hospitalized with serious injuries, according to Jack Meyer, the founder of Missaskim, a Jewish burial group. A 13-year-old son had been released from the hospital, Meyer said.

 

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The fire erupted on the second-floor of a home at 1945 E. 14th St. near Ave S. in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, early Monday.

(Danny Iudici for New York Daily News)

The surviving children are being questioned to determine what might have happened, Nigro said.

The family moved from Ocean Parkway to the single-family home on E. 14th St. near Ave. S about eight months ago.

“They’re a very good family. They’re religious. They’re very nice people,” said a family friend standing outside the home.

Another family friend described the mother as “an angel.”

“They were such an amazing family,” she said. “A heart of gold, such a sensitive soul.”

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People react outside of the Brooklyn home where a mother and her children were tragically killed on Monday.

(Debbie Egan-Chin/New York Daily News)

The grieving friends said Aliza Azan’s father is a prominent rabbi who lives in Israel, and her brother is a leader of the Syrian Jewish community in Brooklyn.

A funeral for the four will be held later Monday at Shevas Achiem synagogue, and the bodies will be flown to Israel for burial.

Responding firefighters arrived shortly after 2 a.m. Monday to a chaotic scene and a wall of flames.

“The fire actually met them at the front door,” Nigro said. “It took very aggressive action by the firefighters knowing that there were people inside to pull their hose lines in to make their searches.”

Six of FDNY’s Bravest suffered non-serious injuries, officials said.

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Six firefighters were among the 10 people injured.

(Danny Iudici for New York Daily News)

A neighbor, who declined to be identified, said he saw firefighters running into the home within minutes of the 911 call.

“There were big flames shooting out the front of the house,” he said. “Firefighters went straight into the fire.”

The flames left much of the home scorched and firefighters were forced to sift through debris on the first floor and in the attic.

The home appeared to have a working smoke detector, an FDNY source said.

“It woke one of the boys on the second floor,” the official said.

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A firefighter works to bring the flames under control.

(Danny Iudici for New York Daily News)

Mourners were ushered out of the home across the street from the fatal fire. Some were in hysterics as they were escorted down the block and into cars waiting for them on Ave. S.

Two men covered the face of a grief-stricken man in the convoy.

In addition to the Brooklyn incident, a blaze broke out in the Bronx late Sunday.

That fire sparked in a home along Simpson St. near Freeman St. in Foxhurst. Three people were sent to a local hospital in serious condition.

Mayor de Blasio also spent a half-hour at the home before leaving without talking to the media.

 

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Source: New York Daily News

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