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FDNY: ‘unattended, lit menorah’ caused deadly Sheepshead Bay fire

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Fire marshals have determined that the cause of Monday morning’s deadly Sheepshead Bay blaze was a menorah left burning overnight.

The tragic fire, which killed a mother and three of her children, was ruled “accidental,” caused by an “unattended lit menorah,” the fire department said in a tweet Monday evening.

The three-alarm inferno began at 2:18 am on Dec. 18 at 1946 E 14th Street on the second floor and in the attic of the private residence, according to a fire department spokesman. Four people were found dead on arrival, he said.

The police identified the deceased as 39-year-old Aliza Azan, her sons 11-year-old Moshe Azan and 7-year-old Yitzah Azan, and her 3-year-old daughter Henrietta Azan.

The father of the children acted “very courageous­ly,” according to fire commissioner Daniel Nigro, and managed to get their teenage son and a cousin to safety. They were all seriously injured and brought to Staten Island University Hospital in critical condition. Two other boys who were spending the night also escaped the burning house, Nigro said.

It took firefighters more than two hours to bring the fire under control by 4:28 am. Six firefighters also sustained injuries while battling the blaze, and a total of 138 firefighters responded to the call, according the fire department spokesman.

In the wake of the blaze, public officials warned the public to be careful using candles and other potentially hazardous items during the holiday season.

“Over the last couple days, several other major fires have caused many injuries — some very serious — and displaced others from their homes,” said Mayor de Blasio in a statement. “During the holiday season, we all need to be cautious with decorations, electric lights, candles, space heaters and other items.”

Nigro likewise warned against “unattended candles, overloaded outlets and power strips.”

The deadly fire was made all the more tragic coming on the sixth night of Hanukkah, prompting a profound outpouring on condolences.

“Tragedy struck our district this morning with the news of the loss of a mother and three young children in a house fire,” said councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay) in a statement. “My heart goes out to all those affected, and I ask you to join me in praying for the recovery of the family members still in critical condition.”

Reach reporter Adam Lucente at alucente@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_Lucente.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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