Fire officials are looking at space heaters being used to heat a Brooklyn home as a possible cause of a fast moving fire that killed an 11-year-old girl and injured a firefighter last night.
Friends and neighbors said the home at 761 Ocean Pkwy. in Midwood, Brooklyn, was being heated with space heaters that may have started the fire at 10:20 p.m. on Jan. 20. Fire officials could not confirm that this was the cause of the fire.
One firefighter from Ladder 147 was also seriously injured and was being treated in a hyperbaric chamber at Cornell University Medical Center after he became trapped in the burning home while rescuing the young girl. Firefighters say he is doing “ok.”
Police identified the fatality as 11-year-old Shirr Teved, who lived at the Ocean Parkway home. Doctors at Maimonidies Medical Center pronounced her dead shortly after paramedics brought her there.
More than 100 firefighters and EMS personnel were on the scene of the second alarm fire. When firefighters arrived, they said they were met with heavy fire blowing out of the first floor of the three story brick home. Firefighters said there was a “large amount of debris in the home,” making it difficult to access inside the home and making the fire much hotter.
The firefighter from Ladder 147, his name not given, apparently made his way past the fire and to the back bedroom of the first floor where he found the young girl unconscious.
Firefighters say he tried to get out the back windows, but his escape was blocked by window bars at which point he became low on air and called a “mayday.”
Other firefighters were able to reach him and the young girl, but it was too late for Teved. The fire was under control by 11:50 p.m., but by then, debris was already piled up on the driveway.
One firefighter said, “look at all that stuff piled up – we had to get through that.”
Two cars in the driveway, an Audi and a Honda, were filled with bags of clothing.
A man identified, only as the father, was taken to a local hospital for smoke inhalation. His condition was not known.
“They did not have heat – she was using a space heater,” said Madelyn Novitsky, a mentor and teacher of the young girl, she said was a fourth grader in Yeshiva Ohel Moshe on 16th Avenue.
“We were praying all night, but then, we heard she didn’t make it – the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away,” Novitsky said, adding that she called her mother, Limor Teved, who was away last night and didn’t know the gravity of what had happened.
She recalled taking the girl to the beach last year.
“She got onto the beach and did somersaults from the boardwalk to the shoreline,” Novitsky recalled. “I was laughing – she was such a delight.”
Novitsky said the young girl used to walk her dog, a poodle named Coco, who died recently. She also used to come over to her home across the street on Ocean Parkway and play with her cat.
“She used to come over for Sabbath dinner, but her favorite thing was to walk my dog and play with my cat, she just loved animals,” Novitsky said. “She was a stunning child – so full of life.”
A neighbor next door said there was turmoil in the home, constant arguing between the father and mother.
“I wanted nothing to do with them,” she said. “And now their home is destroyed.”
Steve Angel, 39, said he was not surprised by the fire, as he said there was always “turmoil in the home – constant fighting.”
“I know them 15 years, I used to see them sometimes on the high holy days in Tifereth Israel down the block and [the girl’s mother] would tell me they fought all the time,” Angel said. “She was afraid of him and I know because I know them so long. He was 20 years older than her, but she owned the building. It’s a shame.”
Andrew Wolpin also said the family was using space heaters to warm the house. It was unclear as to why they were using space heaters.
“My niece used to be her teacher in the Yeshiva, she was a happy, lovely girl with lots of friends,” Wolpin sighed as he looked at the piles of clothing, bicycles and suitcases thrown out of the burnt home. “People find ways to stay warm in the winter, but they shouldn’t put themselves in danger. I’m shocked to see the gutted house, the toys and clothing all over.”
Fire officials say the blaze is still under investigation for an exact cause, but it is not suspicious at this time.