Negligence suit in killer blaze settled

A New Jersey township settled a negligence lawsuit with a Jewish family that lost four children in a fire.

Philyss and Howard Seidenfeld will receive $1 million from Teaneck and $1.1 million from its insurance carrier stemming from the March 2005 blaze.

Philyss Seidenfeld claimed that firefighters she had called to her home to inspect a loud noise and the smell of smoke should have used a thermal-imaging camera and checked the smoke detectors before declaring the house safe, according to The Record of Hackensack.

The children, aged 4 to 15, were killed in the fire five hours after the firefighters left.

A next-door neighbor saved two of the Seidenfelds’ children, ages 7 and 14, through a second-story window. Philyss Seidenfeld and the children’s nanny also escaped.

Another daughter, 17-year-old Helena, was in Israel at the time of the blaze. Howard Seidenfeld was not living in the home; the couple is now divorced.

The family’s attorney, David Jaroslawicz, said the firefighters “blew it,” but the township maintains that the firefighters responded to the call with due diligence.

Township officials said they preferred to settle rather than fund a costly legal battle against the grieving family.

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