1 killed, 1 critically injured in fire that destroyed home of Orthodox Jewish couple

(JTA) — A fire that destroyed the house of an Orthodox Jewish couple in Houston left one dead and one in critical condition in the hospital.

Firefighters were called to the house of Eva Lou and Julius Chapman by neighbors at about 7:45 p.m. Friday, and found it engulfed in flames.

The badly burned body of Eva Lou Chapman was found in the back of the house, according to KPRC Houston. Julius Chapman was still breathing when he was pulled from the front of the house. He remains hospitalized with burns and smoke inhalation.

The couple, both in their 70s, were described as pillars of the Houston Orthodox Jewish community, according to the Vos Iz Neis website.

Advertisement: The Grande at Chesterfield

“When they first moved here and were raising their family, it wasn’t so simple to be shomer mitzvot and Shabbos,” Rabbi Barry Gelman of the United Orthodox Synagogues of Houston told the website. “They stuck with our shul when Orthodoxy wasn’t fashionable, maintaining their lifestyle and modeling it for others. To a large measure our community is an Orthodox community because of what they did.”

The couple has six children and about 50 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, according to reports.

Firefighters reported having a difficult time entering the home, saying they faced “hoarder-like conditions,” according to KPRC.