Hundreds Mourn 7 Children Killed in House Fire

"My children were unbelievable. They were the best," their father said at the funeral

Hundreds of mourners gathered Sunday for the funeral of seven siblings who died in a horrific house fire a day earlier in an Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn.

"They were so pure," the children's father, Gabi Sassoon, said during a eulogy. "My wife, she came out fighting."

"My children were unbelievable. They were the best," he said as mourners outside the funeral home cried in the streets. "Please everybody love your child and students. That's all that counts. Don't negate that."

The service began with prayers in Hebrew, and shrieks could be heard through speakers that broadcast it outside to several hundred people who gathered inside and on the streets

The bodies of the children from the Sassoon family, ages 5 to 16, were taken after the funeral to John F. Kennedy International Airport for a flight to Israel where they will be buried.

Many people gathered Sunday evening for a candle-light memorial outside the Sassoon home in Brooklyn's Midwood neighborhood.

The children died early Saturday when flames engulfed their home. Investigators believe a hot plate left on a kitchen counter set off the fire that trapped the children and badly injured their mother and another sibling.

The hot plate had been left on overnight to heat food for the Sabbath and malfunctioned around midnight.

A vase of white roses was placed in front of the family's fire-gutted home on Bedford Avenue, where a police officer stood guard and contractors boarded up windows with plywood.

"I call this not a tragedy but an absolute disaster," said state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who represents Midwood.

The blaze killed three girls and four boys -- all members of the neighborhood's tight-knit community of ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Authorities identified the victims as girls Eliane, 16; Rivkah, 11; and Sara, 6; and boys David, 12; Yeshua, 10; Moshe, 8; and Yaakob, 5.

At the time of the fire, Gabi Sassoon, a religious education instructor, was in Manhattan at a Shabbaton, an educational celebration held on a Sabbath.

Flames quickly spread through the Sassoon home and there were no smoke detectors to alert the family. Sassoon's wife Gayle and their 14-year-old daughter Siporah escaped by jumping out of windows. Both are hospitalized in critical condition.

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