Chanukah tragedy: Fire kills mother and three children in Brooklyn

Aliza Azan and three of her six children died in their home in a fire possibly caused by their Chanukah menorah. Her husband and another two children were critically injured.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A fire broke out at 2:15 a.m. Monday at the Azan family home on East 14th Street in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. New York Fire Department Commissioner Daniel Nigro told a news conference that although firefighters arrived at the scene in less than three minutes after receiving a call from a neighbor, the house was already engulfed in flames.

Knowing there was a family inside, the firefighters rushed in, but found the mother and three children already dead on the second floor of the three-floor home. The father, Yosef, was able to get two of their teenagers out of the house, but they are currently in the hospital in critical condition. Two other children, one of them a cousin who was sleeping over, were lightly injured, as were five firefighters.

“[The father] was able to get out of the second floor. He was severely burned,” Nigro said. “He tried to get back in to try to save the rest of his family, the ones that he didn’t already save. We believe he acted very courageously and tried desperately, and hopefully it didn’t cost him his life, but it may.”

The fire was likely sparked on the first floor, where the Azans lit their Chanukah menorah, according to relatives. The investigation is ongoing.

According to Israel’s Channel 10, the Azans, an Israeli family, hailed from B’nei Brak, an ultra-orthodox suburb of Tel Aviv. The father, 45, is a well-known member of the local Sephardic community who worked for a clothing chain in Brooklyn. His late wife was the daughter of Rabbi Avraham Hamra, who was the chief rabbi of Damascus and was known as the rabbi of Syrian Jewry. After spending many years in Holon,a city south of Tel Aviv, he moved to Brooklyn in the past year.

“As a parent, it’s impossible for me to imagine what this family is going through right now,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who visited the scene of the tragedy, said in a statement.

Aliza Azan, 39, 11-year-old Moshe, 7-year-old Yitzhak and 3-year-old Henrietta will be buried in Israel after funeral services in Brooklyn on Monday evening.