Sheepshead Bay

Menorah sparked fatal blaze that killed 4 family members in Homecrest

December 18, 2017 By John Alexander Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Police congregated outside of the house that was engulfed by flames early Monday morning. Eagle photo by Arthur De Gaeta
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Burning candles from a Menorah, fed by oil, were determined to be the cause of a fatal blaze in Brooklyn that erupted at approximately 2:20 a.m. Monday morning at a house in Homecrest. The fire tragically claimed four lives, a mother and her three children

Fire destroyed the home at 1946 E. 14th St. between Avenues S and T. When firefighters arrived at the scene they found the entire front of the house engulfed in flames.

According to a statement from the Deputy Commissioner of Public Information (DCPI), police responded to a 911 call at the address.

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“Upon arrival, police encountered FDNY personnel taking measures to suppress the fire. It was then revealed that four individuals perished in the blaze: 39-year-old mother Aliza Azan, her sons 11-year-old Moshe, 7-year-old Yitzah, and her 3-year-old daughter Henrietta,” according to DCPI.

The father, Yosef Azan, was able to help his 16-year-old daughter Shalit and 15-year-old son Daniel escape from the inferno. The couple’s other child, 13-year-old Avraham, and a cousin were sleeping on the first floor and were awakened by the smoke alarm.

EMS also responded to the scene and transported five victims to area hospitals with varying degrees of injury. According to officials Daniel jumped out of a window and shattered his pelvis and Shalit suffered broken bones. Yosef, Shalit and Daniel were taken to Staten Island University Hospital in critical condition.

Yosef is believed to have endured internal burns from inhaling smoke. Avraham and his cousin were taken to Maimonides Hospital with minor injuries. 

City Councilmember Chaim Deutsch released a statement saying, “Tragedy has struck our district this morning, and I am deeply saddened to learn of the loss of a mother and three young children in a house fire. My heart goes out to all those affected, and I am praying for the recovery of family members still being treated.”

Deutsch represents the 48th City Council District which includes Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, Sheepshead Bay, Midwood and Homecrest.

According to Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro, one of the teenagers jumped, while others in the house were able to escape through a side door. The four who died were trapped upstairs.

EMS also responded to the scene and transported five victims to area hospitals with varying degrees of injury; three to Staten Island University Hospital in critical condition and two to Maimonides Hospital with minor injuries. 

“It was early morning, everyone in their home was asleep,” said Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro. “The fire got a good start before a neighbor noticed it and called us.”

According to Nigro, the cause of the fire appeared to be accidental. Investigators ultimately determined that a menorah sparked the blaze. According to officials from the Fire Department, the two-foot-wide unattended menorah, with oil-filled glass cups, may have cracked from the heat, spilling the oil and causing the fire.

The New York Post reported that some Jews prefer olive-oil menorahs like the one suspected of causing the deadly fire rather than electric menorahs.  They believe that they more accurately celebrate the Hanukkah miracle.

“Both oil menorahs and those using wax candles pose a serious fire hazard and should be watched closely,” according to the Post.

“This is a terrible tragedy, not just for this community but for our city,” Nigro said. “At this time of the year, when these things strike, it just tears your heart out for the family. Our city grieves with this family today.”

Deutsch released a statement to the Brooklyn Eagle regarding the tragic events. “While the cause is still undetermined, this was a stark reminder of the importance of ensuring that every family has a fire plan,” said Deutsch. “Working smoke alarms are vital to ensuring the safety of your family. It is also critical to review the appliances you have in your home and ensure that they are all UL certified.

During the holiday season, when so many of us light candles in the home or have decorative lights, it is absolutely essential to ensure that these are never left unattended. Before you go to sleep each night, ensure that tree lights are unplugged and candles are extinguished. My prayers go out to the victims and all of those affected by this morning’s tragedy. May the family members still being treated have a speedy recovery.”

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