Two Children Dead After House Fire in Israeli Settlement

Two siblings, aged two and four, died after a house fire in the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Beitar Illit. Firefighters suspect the fire broke out after a light bulb exploded

The scene of the fire in Betar Illit, October 10, 2018.
Emil Salman

Two children ages two and four died in a house fire on Tuesday night in the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Beitar Illit. Two other children and an adult in the home were also injured in the incident.

Five further people were treated for smoke inhalation, but didn’t require hospitalization.

Firefighters suspect that the blaze that apparently consumed the home and killed Efrat Ginzburg and her younger brother Avi was caused by a technical failure. Three surviving children said they saw the fire flare up after a light bulb exploded.

Neighbors and some rescue personnel said firefighters took too long to arrive at the scene; one witness said they pulled up as long as 25 minutes after they were called. A neighbor said he had telephoned for help three times. But firefighters say they were there within minutes.

Haim Roter of the Hatzalah rescue organization said the two small children were stuck at the site of the blaze and could not be rescued in time, while others managed to get out of the building. Rescuers “got to them way too late,” he said.

A neighbor said his wife had extricated the family’s other three children from the home. Two children aged seven and nine were slightly injured, and a 22-year-old in the house was hurt moderately.