Two young children die in fire at family home in Tel Sheva

Relative reportedly pulls brother and sister from home; the pair taken in critical condition to Soroka, where they are pronounced dead

Michael Horovitz is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel

Firefighters work to put out a fire at a home in Tel Sheva, April 30, 2023. (Fire and Rescue Services)
Firefighters work to put out a fire at a home in Tel Sheva, April 30, 2023. (Fire and Rescue Services)

Two children were killed in a house fire that broke out in the southern Bedouin town of Tel Sheva on Sunday.

The two siblings, a two-year-old girl and a five-year-old boy, were found in critical condition and taken to a hospital while medics tried to resuscitate them, according to a Fire and Rescue Services statement.

Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba announced later that the children were pronounced dead after their arrival.

Meanwhile, firefighters brought the fire under control, and determined that no others were trapped in the building, the statement read.

Police said they had opened an investigation into the blaze.

Citing eyewitnesses, Channel 12 news reported that a relative passing by saw the fire and tried to break into the house — which was locked — and save the children.

Police and Fire and Rescue Services at the scene of a fire in the southern Bedouin town of Tel Sheva, April 30, 2023. (Fire and Rescue Services)

The relative took a tractor, broke into the home, and took the children from the blaze. Fire and Rescue Services arrived afterward.

Tel Sheva Mayor Omer Abu Rakik sent his condolences to the victims’ families and expressed the hope that such a tragedy “won’t happen again in Tel Sheva or anywhere.”

“All municipal departments — welfare and psychologists — will go there in order to help the family,” he said in a statement.

According to data from the Beterem organization for children’s safety, 26 children have died in fires over the past five years, 58 percent of whom were under the age of four.

Orly Silbinger, the head of Beterem, warned in a statement that children are the most vulnerable population in fires.

“I call on parents — don’t think this won’t happen. Smoke detectors save lives. They can’t prevent fires but they can alert to them ahead of time, allowing children to be rescued quickly and rescue services to be called,” Silbinger said.

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