Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

19 Adar II 5765 - March 30, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Tragic Fire in New Jersey Claims the Lives of Four Children

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

Four children perished when flames consumed the home of the Seidenfeld family, members of the chareidi community in Teaneck, New Jersey.

The victims were 15-year-old Ari, 6-year-old Noa, 5-year-old Adira and 4-year-old Nosson. Their mother, Aliza bas Yehudis, is listed in serious condition at Livingston Hospital in New Jersey, where the child care helper also lies hospitalized. Two other daughters ages 14 and 7 were miraculously rescued by a neighbor. Hospital Spokesman Reuben Lally says the mother's condition is critical but stable.

Six hours before the tragedy took place Mrs. Seidenfeld called the city fire department to report that smoke was seeping from the cellar. Later Fire Commander John Bauer told reporters when the firefighters arrived at the three-story home they searched for half-an-hour but did not detect any smoke and found the electrical switches in proper order.

At 1:45 am the household was awakened by the nanny's screams. Already filled with smoke, the house soon turned into an inferno. Two of the girls managed to escape using a ladder brought by the neighbors. Only after half an hour were the firefighters able to overcome the flames. By then four of the children had died of smoke inhalation.

The Teaneck Fire Department faced harsh criticism from police commanders for failing to avert the tragedy by locating the source of the smoke. Neither did ranking figures at the local fire station hide their anger over the grave oversight. "Why didn't the firefighters use the special new fire-locator camera?" asked one of the firemen. He explained that the camera can locate smoke invisible to the naked eye or flames burning inside the house by measuring temperature changes.

The mournful levaya for the four children was held at the Jewish cemetery in the Paramus and attended by members of the chareidi community.


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