A fire that roared through a Brooklyn home on the sixth night of Hanukkah, killing a mother and her three young children, was touched off by the family's menorah, fire officials said. The fire department late Monday released a statement saying fire marshals determined the blaze to be accidental, caused by an "unattended lit menorah." Neighbors said the family kept the menorah in a living room window throughout the eight-day holiday, also known as the Jewish Festival of Lights, the AP reports. "So often, tragedy strikes at this time of year, and the holidays make it that much more difficult because our communities should be celebrating, not mourning," New York City Fire Department Commissioner Daniel Nigro says.
The fire was reported around 2:30am Monday. Mother Aliza Azan was found dead on the second floor of the single-family home near the children who perished: 11-year-old Moshe, 7-year-old Yitzah, and 3-year-old Henrietta. The children's father and two teenagers were hospitalized in critical condition. A sixth child and a cousin escaped. Nigro says the children's father saved two of his older children from the fire and was seriously burned trying to get back inside the burning house. "We believe that he acted very courageously and tried desperately," Nigro says, per the New York Post. "Hopefully it didn't cost his life also, but it may." Firefighters said unattended candles, overloaded outlets and power strips, "and many of the holiday traditions we all hold dear" often cause fires.