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FDNY: 7 Children Killed In Brooklyn House Fire Caused By Malfunctioning Hot Plate

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) - Fire tore through a Brooklyn home early Saturday, killing seven children from an Orthodox Jewish family and leaving two other people in critical condition, authorities said. Authorities believe the fire was caused by a malfunctioning hot plate left on for the Sabbath.

"This is the largest tragedy by fire that the city has had in seven years," New York Fire Department Commissioner Daniel Nigro said during a Saturday morning news conference.

FDNY: 7 Children Killed In Brooklyn House Fire

Police identified the children as Eliane Sassoon, 16; Rivkah Sassoon, 11; David Sassoon, 12; Yeshua Sassoon, 10; Moshe Sassoon, 8; Sara Sassoon, 6; Yaakob Sassoon, 5.

The children's mother, 45, and her 14-year-old daughter managed to escape the flames through a second-story window, police said.

The woman was taken to Jacobi Medical Center, while the teen was taken to Staten Island University Hospital, CBS2's Ilana Gold reported. Both suffered burns and smoke inhalation and are listed in critical condition, Nigro said.

PHOTOS: Brooklyn Fire Kills 7 Children | Funeral For Children Killed In Brooklyn Fire

Firefighters received a call at 12:23 a.m. about the blaze at a single-family home on Bedford Avenue between avenues M and L in Midwood, Brooklyn.

Neighbor Andrew Rosenblatt said he called 911 after he heard cries for help.

"I was up in the back room on the computer and I hear screaming from a child, 'Mommy, mommy, help me'" Rosenblatt told CBS2's Matt Kozar. "It's devastating.  You never expect it to happen so close."

FDNY: 7 Children Killed In Brooklyn House Fire

Long said more than 100 firefighters responded and brought the blaze under control at around 1:30 a.m. Firefighters were on the scene less than 3.5 minutes after the call came in, according to Nigro.

The children were all trapped in their bedrooms in the back of the top floor, WCBS 880's Sophia Hall reported.

"It's difficult to find one child in a room during a search," Nigro said. "To find a house full of children that can't be revived, I'm sure it will take its toll on our members for quite some time."

The first and second floors of the home were completely destroyed, 1010 WINS' Derricke Dennis reported.

"It's a tragedy for this family, it's a tragedy for this community, it's a tragedy for our city," Nigro said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio Speaks On Loss Of 7 Children In Brooklyn House Fire

In accordance with Jewish law, all seven children will be buried Sunday.

Commissioner Nigro said the fire started in the kitchen, where a hot plate was left on and a malfunction occurred. Many religious Jews do not use electricity on the Sabbath, along with refraining from work and observing other prohibitions meant to keep the day holy. As a result, some families may leave them on so they are usable without violating any religious laws or traditions.

Nigro said it appeared there were no working smoke detectors on the first and second floors of the home.

Fire investigators found a smoke detector in the basement of the home, but so far none have been found elsewhere in the house, Nigro said.

"The children were so lovely.  Whenever it snowed, they would clean my walk without even telling me.  I would give them lollipops and they were so happy with the lollipops," the Sassoon's neighbor Rose Insel said.

With a heavy heart, Mayor Bill de Blasio talked about the family's loss in Brooklyn Saturday afternoon, Hall reported.

"You can only imagine that this beautiful, vibrant family, 24 hours ago intact, and now so many lost and two cling to life," the mayor said.

The fire is being investigated by the city fire marshal's office, Long said.

Fire Safety Education teams will be in the neighborhood Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to educate residents in response to the fatal fire.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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