New York: The tight-knit Orthodox Jewish New York City community where seven siblings perished in a deadly Sabbath fire was still reeling today as funeral services for the children were being prepared.
"I call this not a tragedy but an absolute disaster," said state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who represents the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn were the fire broke out early Saturday. The blaze killed three girls and four boys ages 5 to 16, leaving their mother and another child critically injured.
Funeral plans were tentatively set for this afternoon.
Investigators believe a hot plate left on a kitchen counter set off the blaze that sent flames up the stairs, trapping the children in their second-floor bedrooms as they slept.
Many religious Jews who observe the Sabbath refrain from working, in all forms, from sundown Friday to sundown yesterday including using electricity.
Authorities say their father was at a nearby conference at the time of the fire. Neither his name nor those of the survivors were released.
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro called it the city's worst fatal fire in recent memory and Mayor Bill de Blasio, after touring the charred home, called the deadly blaze a tragedy for the family, the community and for the city.
The last residential blaze with a similar death toll happened in 2007, when eight children and an adult were killed in a fire in a 100-year-old building in the Bronx where several African immigrant families lived.
Fire officials said an overheated space heater cord sparked that blaze.