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Houston, TX - 1 Dead, 1 Injured As Fatal Houston Fire Ravages Home Of Prominent Members Of Houston’s Jewish Community

Published on: August 21, 2016 01:04 AM
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Houston, TX - A devastating fire that swept through the one story Houston home of a well known couple in the Orthodox Jewish community Friday night took the life of one resident, while sending the other to the hospital with serious injuries.

KPRC Houston reported that Eva Lou Chapman died in the blaze on the 9400 block of Greenwillow Street in southwest Houston.  Her husband, Julius, remains hospitalized in critical but stable condition after suffering burns and smoke inhalation.

Firefighters arrived on scene at approximately 7:45 PM Friday night and found the house engulfed in flames and heavy smoke.

Members of the Houston Fire Department who were crawling through the smoke found Chapman on the floor near the front part of the house, according to the Houston Chronicle.  Chapman was still breathing when he was pulled from the house and firefighters used a cyanokit to flush poisonous cyanide from Chapman’s system. 

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“When we give these kits there is a high rate of survival from smoke inhalation,” said Senior Fire Captain Ruy Luzano.

Mrs. Chapman’s badly burned body was found at the back of the home.

Rabbi Barry Gelman of the United Orthodox Synagogues of Houston said that Chapman was a regular at the synagogue’s morning minyan and that the couple was a pillar of the local Jewish community.

“They were models of kindness,” Rabbi Gelman told VIN News.  “When they first moved here and were raising their family it wasn’t so simple to be shomer mitzvot and Shabbos.  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.”

Julius ChapmanJulius Chapman

The couple, both 81 years old, were heavily involved in communal projects. Julius Chapman served on the synagogue’s board and was profiled in 2014 by the Jewish Herald-Voice for his work as a shomer for the local chevra kadisha.  Since there was no mikvah in town when the Chapmans moved to Houston, they built one in their home.

“Mrs. Chapman was the mikvah lady for everybody for I don’t know how many years,” said Rabbi Gelman.  “That was the address of the mikvah:  the Chapman house on Greenwillow.”

Rabbi Gelman remembered Mrs. Chapman for her strong commitment to her family and a Torah lifestyle.

“She was a lion,” said Rabbi Gelman.  “She was very outspoken about what she thought was right and wrong and was very committed to mitzvot, especially hachnassat orchim, and to raising her family.”

Because the six Chapman children live in various locations, Mrs. Chapman would run a special “Bubby Camp.” Cousin Alysa Graves estimated that the Chapmans had approximately 50 grandchildren and great grandchildren.

“The cousins would all get together at Bubby Camp and spend time together,” said Rabbi Gelman. “We had one couple who moved here and when they saw what she did with the grandchildren, they said it gave them something to look forward to, running their own version of Eva Lou’s Bubby Camp for their grandchildren one day.”

Details for Mrs. Chapman’s funeral have yet to be arranged.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.  Firefighters described conditions in the home as a “hoarder-type situation,” with items stacked higher than the house’s front door. 

Firefighters had to remove the home’s front door to gain entry and had to cut their way through piles of debris in order to locate the victims.


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Read Comments (11)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Aug 21, 2016 at 02:17 AM Anonymous Says:

BDE. So sad

2

 Aug 21, 2016 at 05:18 AM Anonymous Says:

Hoarding can be so dangerous. With all those grand kids it's a shame none could help. May she rest in peace.

3

 Aug 21, 2016 at 08:59 AM HeshyEmes Says:

Sadly, unless at least 1 spouse is an "anti-hoarder", a home can become cluttered to a point of סכנת נפשות. If you have an issue with not throwing out things that are 1. Broken, but "you will fix 1 day"; 2. Magazines & newspapers more than 6 months old "but you haven't read yet"; 3. Empty boxes & containers that "you haven't found the perfect use for"; 4. Food past it's expiration date, because "there's nothing wrong with it, bread can be toasted, and anyway food is not ok for 3 months & suddenly, on the expiration date, becomes poison"; 5. Etc. you are probably a hoarder.

May Mr. Chapman have a Refuah Shleimeh, and may Mrs. Chapman be a מליץ יושר for her family & כלל ישראל.

4

 Aug 21, 2016 at 10:11 AM Aron1 Says:

Reply to #3  
HeshyEmes Says:

Sadly, unless at least 1 spouse is an "anti-hoarder", a home can become cluttered to a point of סכנת נפשות. If you have an issue with not throwing out things that are 1. Broken, but "you will fix 1 day"; 2. Magazines & newspapers more than 6 months old "but you haven't read yet"; 3. Empty boxes & containers that "you haven't found the perfect use for"; 4. Food past it's expiration date, because "there's nothing wrong with it, bread can be toasted, and anyway food is not ok for 3 months & suddenly, on the expiration date, becomes poison"; 5. Etc. you are probably a hoarder.

May Mr. Chapman have a Refuah Shleimeh, and may Mrs. Chapman be a מליץ יושר for her family & כלל ישראל.

Are your (unintended?) innuendos really necessary and warranted?

5

 Aug 21, 2016 at 10:14 AM Aron1 Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

BDE. So sad

Baruch Dayan HaEmes.
What's also sad is that people write "BDE" for what will likely be their final expression of "respect" to the deceased.
Not very respectful, IMHO.

6

 Aug 21, 2016 at 05:26 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

Hoarding can be so dangerous. With all those grand kids it's a shame none could help. May she rest in peace.

First off, a terrible tragedy.

Second, please do not put the blame on the family. Even if they clear out a home, the hoarder can turn it back to the same situation—or worse—in a short time.

7

 Aug 21, 2016 at 05:54 PM Wondering_Star Says:

This is so sad and should be a wake-up call to all who have parents or grandparents who are hoarders, It can be deadly. And to all the "caring" members of the shul they went to, that no one ever did anything to assist these elders is even worse. It's pretty clear from the timing that Shabbat candles caught the debris on fire. If you see this kins of hoarder situation, call Adult Protective Services and get the people some assistance. You can even call anonymously.

8

 Aug 21, 2016 at 10:26 PM GenugShoin Says:

Reply to #7  
Wondering_Star Says:

This is so sad and should be a wake-up call to all who have parents or grandparents who are hoarders, It can be deadly. And to all the "caring" members of the shul they went to, that no one ever did anything to assist these elders is even worse. It's pretty clear from the timing that Shabbat candles caught the debris on fire. If you see this kins of hoarder situation, call Adult Protective Services and get the people some assistance. You can even call anonymously.

BDE

To many of the above comments:

Who said that hoarding had anything to do with the tragedy that happened?

9

 Aug 22, 2016 at 01:35 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #8  
GenugShoin Says:

BDE

To many of the above comments:

Who said that hoarding had anything to do with the tragedy that happened?

Read.

10

 Aug 22, 2016 at 10:53 PM Aron1 Says:

Reply to #5  
Aron1 Says:

Baruch Dayan HaEmes.
What's also sad is that people write "BDE" for what will likely be their final expression of "respect" to the deceased.
Not very respectful, IMHO.

My apologies. A "pop-up" ad conveniently covered the part of the article discussing hoarding.

11

 Aug 24, 2016 at 08:50 AM CKL92 Says:

Stop the hoarding talk!!. You can see and read the 6 children were scattered and they had families of their own, probably unaware their parents needed help. A couple in their 80s, cannot just pick up items and carry them out as you can at age 50 and 40. Focus instead on all they did for the community, and Mrs Chapman running the mikveh out of her home for so many years.. Again, as a couple gets older and weaker it's hard to know where to turn for help. Mr. Chapman is in ICU, since he had other health concerns before this,So consider these people simply tried to get through each day, doing chesed and so forth. These people wanted to do for others, not acept help. WE should daven for Mr. Chapman and also for the soul of Mrs. Chapman. .I was privileged to meet her about 20 years ago and nicer parents you could not ask for, a mensch and Ashet chayil . May their family be joined with the mourners in Zion..

12

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