NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – An 11-year-old girl was killed and one of New York’s bravest was seriously injured during an overnight fire that destroyed a home in Brooklyn.
Flames broke out at around 10:30 p.m. Monday inside the first floor of a three-story building on Ocean Parkway near Foster Avenue in the Midwood section of the borough.
“Never saw a building so gutted in a fire like this,” neighbor Andrew Wolpin told CBS2. “It looks haunted. It hurts to look at that building.”
“Fire was coming out of the first floor like crazy,” added neighbor Alvin Pall. “Smoke was intense. It was a gray cloud. It was so gray, you practically couldn’t see the building at one point.”
Firefighters tried to tackle the fire as fast as they could, but when it was finally out, they found 11-year-old Shirr Teved unconscious and unresponsive.
“I saw them, on the stretcher, taking out a little girl — and a girl I used to see play in this park right here, sitting on the benches. So yeah, it’s pretty sad,” witness Aminjon Zokirov said.
“Shocked about this tragedy,” another neighbor added. “She was very caring, very nice, very sharing.”
Teved was rushed to Maimonides Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.
Neighbors said she was well-loved in her Jewish community.
“An 11-year-old girl at the beginning of her life, and she’s not going to be playing with her friends, going to school,” Wolpin said. “Her life is cut short. The family is probably going to live with this scar for the rest of their life.”
“They would go on Saturdays to the same synagogue as my sisters,” another neighbor added. “They played. They played with cats. They played together with all the girls on the block.”
Heartbroken Madelyn Novitsky was Shirr’s tutor and substitute teacher at Yeshiva Ohel Moshe. She described the young girl as a beautiful soul who loved animals, and her loss as unfathomable.
“Only God makes kids like this. She was a delight. Her name was Shirr. It means song,” Novitsky told CBS2’s Scott Rapoport.
A firefighter was also seriously hurt and had to be pulled from the home, but he is expected to recover.
At a funeral in Borough Park on Tuesday evening, friends and family couldn’t hold back tears as they gathered to remember Shirr.
“Shirr, she was about to celebrate her Bat Mitzvah, her 12th birthday, just in a few weeks. She’ll be elevated to the highest spheres in heaven,” said Rabbi Dov Machlis, who runs the school she attended.
Meanwhile, the cause of the deadly blaze is under investigation. Novitsky told Rapoport she just couldn’t shake something the little girl’s mother had told her.
“They didn’t have any heat,” Novitsky said. “She was using a heater.”