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.