Nursing home fire in Bnei Brak injures 17

Staff members arrested on suspicion of forging fire permits; Fire and Rescue Services: No staff members were on premises.

By
March 19, 2012 02:38
2 minute read.
Fire at old age home in Bnei Brak

Fire at old age home in Bnei Brak 370. (photo credit: Channel 10)

 
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A fire on Sunday at an old-age home in Bnei Brak left 17 elderly residents injured – two of them seriously – with staff members later being arrested on suspicion of forging fire safety permits.

Firefighters were called to the site early on Sunday by a passerby who noticed smoke and flames emerging from the building’s third floor.

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According to Fire and Rescue Services spokesman Hezi Tzafania, fire trucks arrived within three minutes, and no members of the home’s staff were on the premises. Noting the severity of the fire, the commander of the first crew that arrived immediately requested backup.

Firefighters rushed to the third floor and placed their own oxygen masks on the faces of many of the residents.

It is believed that this prevented more people from being seriously hurt.

Seventeen residents were hospitalized due to smoke inhalation. Two were in serious condition.

In the hours after the fire, disturbing details began coming to light.

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“We know for sure that the owners forged a permit from us and sent it to the Health Ministry,” a senior Fire and Rescue Services official from the Bnei Brak station told Israel Radio, adding that the suspects allegedly took an older permit and altered the dates.

Before the fire, the Health Ministry became suspicious that the permit had been forged and asked the Fire and Rescue Services to authenticate it.

After fire authorities said they had no connection to it, the police were called in and an investigation was launched.

“We were told that the home was shutting down and that I needed to find a new place for my father,” a man identifying himself as Tamir told Israel Radio. “They never told us why it was closing, but they said it would be shut in a matter of days.”

Police arrested the manager and two employees of the home on Sunday.

The suspects were brought before the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court. During the remand session they said they had not sought the proper Fire and Rescue Services permit because the home was soon to be closed.

Each was released to house arrest for eight days after posting bail of NIS 50,000. The court also seized their passports for 180 days and banned them from approaching the old-age home or contacting one another for a month.

Fire investigators believe an electrical fault, possibly linked to the air conditioning system, sparked the blaze.

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