Tight knit Brooklyn community reacts to tragedy that killed 7 children

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MIDWOOD, Brooklyn (PIX11) -- The tightly knit Orthodox Jewish community in the Midwood section of Brooklyn is in shock as it grapples with a raging fire that claimed the lives of seven children from one family.

Their mother and 14-year-old sibling remained in critical condition at local hospitals on Saturday.

A malfunctioning hot plate left on for the Sabbath is being blamed for sparking the inferno that killed the children—ages 5 to 16—in their second floor bedrooms at their home on Bedford Avenue.

Many Orthodox families use a hot plate because it is a way to keep food warm without lighting a flame which is prohibited on the weekly day of rest.

It is the deadliest fire since March of 2007, when flames tore through a house on Woodycrest Avenue in the Bronx, killing eight children and a woman, all of them part of an extended family of immigrants from Mali.

That fire, according to fire officials, started in a cord attached to a space heater. The city was in deep mourning then, as it is once again.

Karen Rosenblatt, whose husband called 911 after seeing flames shooting from their neighbor’s house, said it will take the community a very long time to heal from this tragedy.

“Most of the Orthodox have multiple children, so I think it’s going to make a huge impact, having to explain it to their children, how they’re going to comprehend it themselves,” said Rosenblatt.

“Right now we’re going to be mourning and praying. We’re going to be there for the families, hopefully do a collection of funds to help with their expenses,” said Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte (D-Brooklyn).

Community advocate Tony Herbert has organized a candlelight vigil in front of the gutted home for Sunday at 7pm. Members of the clergy, community leaders and elected officials are expected to take part.

“It’s that whole mantra—one family, one community. It’s not a black thing. It’s not a Jewish thing. It’s not a Hispanic thing. It’s a community thing,” said Herbert. “This community is hurting, and we have to be here with them.”