Holiday tragedy: Woman dies in fire started by Sabbath candles

Meira Tal, 80, was pronounced dead on the scene; husband is in stable condition.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

In a Sukkot holiday tragedy, a woman died Friday night after the flame of her Sabbath candles somehow caught other objects in her apartment in Kiryat Tivon near Haifa, setting the home ablaze.

The fire started around 7:00 PM, shortly after the Sabbath had begun. Firefighters rushed to the apartment and extinguished the blaze. Meira Tal, 80, was found with severe burns only after battle with the flames was won. Rescuers were forced to pronounce her dead at the scene.

Magen David Adom paramedics also found her husband, Itamar, 79, still conscious and suffering from smoke inhalation. According to paramedic Saleh Tabash, he was provided with medical attention, including oxygen, and was then taken to Rambam Hospital in Haifa in stable condition.

Itamar a physician himself, is a former director of the Pediatrics Department in HaEmek Hospital in Afula.

Tal’s son, Lior, told Walla News that his mother “was a righteous woman in her life and in her death. She lit the Sabbath candles, and died on the Sabbath.” She had had “a huge heart,” he added, and had “devoted her life to her children and grandchildren.”

The whole family was shaken by the tragedy, he said.

After an investigation determined that the fire was caused by the candles, Israeli authorities put out a statement urging caution when keeping the tradition that is practiced every Sabbath and holiday eve.

“We are again calling on the public: beware of unattended fires. Be sure to light candles where you can see them and in a safe place, away from objects made of wood or any material that can catch fire, and of course out of the reach of children,” the statement said.

Tal is survived by her husband, whose condition is slowly improving, two sons and six grandchildren. She will be buried Tuesday afternoon in Kiryat Tivon.