Tot Fighting For Her Life, in 'Very Critical' Condition', After Brooklyn Menorah Fire Horror

NY Daily News - December 17, 2009

by Michael J. Feeney and Simone Weichselbaum

A 3-year-old Brooklyn girl was fighting for her life Wednesday night after being pulled from a fire in her home sparked when a lighted menorah toppled over, officials and a witness said.

Hatzolah ambulance workers rushed the toddler to Maimonides Medical Center. She was suffering from third-degree burns and had gone into cardiac arrest, sources said.

Her baby-sitter was taken to Staten Island University Hospital. Two others were also injured in the 9:30 p.m. house fire on 47th St. in Borough Park.

Their conditions were unknown Wednesday night.

"The baby has a lot of burns and is very critical," said a law enforcement source who saw the unconscious child strapped to an ambulance stretcher.

Doctors "incubated" the girl and planned on taking her to the Staten Island University Hospital's burn unit, sources said.

"The smoke was so thick," said Benjamin Ovitsh, 39. "I heard the kid screaming."

Ovitsh was driving with his nephew, Eli, when he said he saw plumes of black smoke rising over 47th St.

He pulled over his car and dialed 911.

"I was screaming to get the kid out," he said. "I was yelling, 'There's a kid crying in the room!'"

Ovitsh said he tried to run into the building but was blinded by soot and turned back.

He said he spotted a lighted menorah lying on the floor inside the home.

"The kid's pajamas were burned through," he said. "But the kid was breathing."

An FDNY spokesman said the cause of the fire was under investigation.

Neighbors said the tot is one of five kids and has a twin sister. Her distraught parents, Sara and Yakov Friedman, weren't home at the time. ""Just the baby-sitter," said a 13-year-old boy who lives down the street.

The boy said he was busy celebrating the sixth night of Chanukah, where candles or oil burn all night long in homes across the city, when he heard the baby-sitter outside in the street crying for help.

"She was lost," he said. "She was yelling. She didn't make any sense. A neighbor ran outside and then all these fire trucks came."