Hospital (stock)
Hospital (stock) iStock

Doctors at the Yitzhak Shamir Medical Center (formerly known as Assaf Harofeh Medical Center) in Rishon Letzion are fighting to save the life of a four-year-old boy seriously injured in a tragic apartment fire in southern Israel on Sunday.

On Sunday, a fire broke out in the home of the Shepadov family on the seventh story of an eight-story apartment building on David Elazar Street in Beer Sheva.

Initial reports suggest the fire was started when one of the children played with matches.

The mother, Shlomit Shepadov, managed to pull five of her eight children from the burning apartment to safety, suffering injuries from smoke inhalation in the process. A sixth child, Shlomit’s eight-year-old daughter, managed to jump from the balcony to safety, while suffering contusions in the jump.

But Shlomit Shepadov was unable to rescue her two-year-old daughter Shterna Sarah, or her four-year-old son Schneur Zalman, who was hiding underneath his bed.

Fire and rescue teams were quickly dispatched to the scene of the fire, along with emergency medical responders from MDA.

“The woman was screaming the entire time that her baby was still in the apartment,” said senior MDA paramedic Yaron Barel. “Fire and rescue teams went into the burning apartment brought out an unconscious 3-year-old child who had no pulse and was not breathing. We provided emergency first aid at the scene, and performing resuscitation techniques while she was in critical condition.”

Firefighters entered the apartment and recovered both Shterna Sarah and Schneur Zalman. After the children were evacuated to Soroka Medical Center, however, doctors were forced to declare Shterna Sarah dead.

A pre-dawn funeral service for Shterna Sarah drew hundreds in Beer Sheva on Monday.

On Tuesday, hospital officials at Yitzhak Shamir Medical Center reported that four-year-old Schneur Zalman remains in serious condition, and that doctors are still struggling to stabilize the boy’s condition. Doctors emphasized that the boy’s life is still very much in danger.

The child’s father, Yisrael Shepadov, called on the public Monday to pray for the complete recovery of his son, Schneur Zalman ben Zuslin Shulamis.

“Anyone who has heard the story and cares about my son should pray for him. He needs a miracle.”

Shterna Sarah, said Yisrael, “is also praying with us from up in heaven. She’s already with the Messiah, we need to pray for those who are here with us. We will be okay after Schneur recovers.”

Hadas the children’s grandmother, said Shlomit Shepadov had been crushed by the tragedy. Hadas hailed her as a “heroine” for saving six of her children.

“She is just utterly broken. She was a real heroine, she saved her children. She was just so brave.”

“If it hadn’t been for Shlomit, the kids would have all been killed in the fire. She saved them. She just wasn’t able to save Shneor and Sarah. The firefighter wouldn’t let her go back into the fire.”