Police are investigating the blaze that erupted in a Bnei Brak senior citizens complex and nursing home at 22:15 on motzei Shabbos, the eve 24 Adar 5772. The fire at Ginat HaZahav Home on HaShlosha Street sent many residents to the hospital. Over 20 residents were treated, some for light smoke inhalation while at least six persons are listed in serious condition. Others are in less serious condition.
Fire officials report that they have filed numerous reports with police, documenting the facility is operating without fire safety approval. Fire department officers told the media following the blaze that despite repeated requests, police seemingly did nothing.
The owner of the complex and a number of senior employees has been detained by authorities for questioning. The preliminary report filed by fire investigators report to an electrical short as the cause of the blaze. Israel Radio reported on Sunday morning that the fire department operating permit for the facility has been determined to be bogus. The fire warning system did not operate and it has also been learned there were many staff members absent at the time of the blaze. The last two facts appear to have contributed to the number of injuries and the severity of the injuries.
Bnei Brak fire official Chezi Tzefanya is quoted as saying that when his men arrived they had significant difficulty trying to locate any employee of the facility who could provide them with an indication as to how many residents are in the complex. Without this knowledge the job of firemen was significantly complicated and more dangerous as firefighters were operating ‘in the dark’.
Tzefanya explained a number of residents were found unconscious. It also appears that a passerby saw the smoke and flames and called in the fire and the call for help did not come from the homes, since the fire detection system did not operate.
Israel Radio at 12:30pm reports that investigators have learned the operator of the facility forged forms to obtain a fire department operating permit.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)