Hot plate sparks Brooklyn fire that kills seven children.

Hot Plate Used to Keep Food Warm on the Sabbath Sparks Brooklyn Fire That Kills Seven Kids

Hot Plate Used to Keep Food Warm on the Sabbath Sparks Brooklyn Fire That Kills Seven Kids

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March 21 2015 1:09 PM

Hot Plate Used to Keep Food Warm on the Sabbath Sparks Brooklyn Fire That Kills Seven Kids

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A home fire in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn, March 21, 2015, in New York City.

Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images

A house fire in Brooklyn killed seven siblings early Saturday morning. Authorities say the fire was likely sparked by a hot plate that was being used to keep food warm on the Sabbath. The dead children’s mother and one of her daughters managed to get out by smashing a window and jumping, but the four boys and three girls in upstairs bedrooms were trapped, and no one was able to save them. “I heard a child yelling, ‘Mommy! Mommy, help me!’ ” a neighbor tells the New York Daily News. “I looked out the back window, and I saw flames, smoke ... The smoke and the flames were horrendous.”

Neighbors described the family as “ultra-orthodox” and “very religious,” leading authorities to say the hot plate was likely turned on Friday afternoon, notes the New York Post. Observant Jews avoid turning on appliances during the weekly day of rest. “It’s a tragedy for this family. It’s a tragedy for this community. It’s a tragedy for our city,” Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said, describing it as the worst fire the city has seen in seven years.

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Neighbors look at the scene of a fire in the Midwood neighborhood in Brooklyn on March 21, 2015 in New York City.

Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images

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Four boys—ages 5, 6, 7, and 11—and three girls—ages 8, 12, and 15—died in the fire, according to the Daily News. The 8-year-old girl was declared dead at the scene, while the remaining six siblings were sent to a hospital but died. Neighbors described the frantic middle-of-the-night scene, as the 45-year-old mother and her 14-year-old daughter looked on from outside and begged for help as flames consumed the house. “My kids are in there, get them out! Get them out!” she reportedly said. The mother and daughter are in critical condition at a hospital and are being treated for burns and smoke inhalation, reports CNN.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.