Text size

Nitai Ruyami, 7, died in a home fire yesterday, which left his sister Eliyah, 11, fighting for her life in Rambam Hospital in Haifa.

The fire broke out around 4 A.M. on the religious moshav Keshet, in the Golan Heights, due to an electrical malfunction in an air conditioner. Parents Yaakov and Ayelet, were sleeping on the ground floor when they smelled the smoke. They managed to save their 2-year-old son and their 14-year-old daughter.

A neighbor later managed to pull Nitai and Eliyah out of their second-floor bedrooms, but medics could revive only Eliyah.

"The father tried to go back into the house and save Eliyah and Nitai, but the fire spread quickly. The house was filled with thick, dense smoke and was very hot, and he could not get inside," said neighbor Yeruham Kantman.

Neighbors gathered around the burning house after hearing the parents' screams.

"I heard the mother crying for help," said Amihai Gil, 24, who was spending the night at his parents' house across the way. "I woke up and ran outside with my father. Several people and I tried to enter the second floor, by the stairs, but it was impossible. The house was full of very thick smoke. We thought we could get in through the window. Someone brought a ladder, we climbed ... At some point I understood that every minute was important to save the two children. I covered my face with a wet towel and went inside. It was impossible to see anything. I felt around until I felt one of the children's beds. I took the child and passed it to the people waiting at the window, and I went to search for the other one. I eventually found the child on the floor and brought it out too," said Gil.

Kantman, who is a medic, tried to resuscitate them until a Magen David Adom mobile intensive care unit arrived. They managed to stabilize Eliyah and evacuated her to hospital, where she is being treated in a pressure chamber.

Nitai Ruyami was declared dead around 6 A.M. and was buried in Keshet's cemetery yesterday afternoon.

Two teams of firefighters from Katzrin and and Bnei Yehuda arrived to fight the fire. The house was constructed partly of wood, and part of the roof was made of asbestos.

The flames reached five meters high, said Dan Hananiya, the head of the fire and rescue services in the Northern Galilee and Golan. The house was very seriously damaged.

The father had returned home an hour and a half before the fire broke out, and smelled something unusual, but said he had not suspected a fire.