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Damaging Blaze Guts Home Of Brooklyn Rabbi; Firefighters Rescue Torahs

Officials Say Fire Was Accidental And Started By Candles Left Unattended
Fire at home of Midwood rabbi on Thursday April 4, 2013. (credit: CBS 2)

Fire at home of Midwood rabbi on Thursday April 4, 2013. (credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A fast-moving fire Thursday ripped through a Brooklyn rabbi’s home, which also housed his synagogue.

But the community is thankful because of what firefighters were able to save.

Neighbors watched helplessly as flames engulfed the Congregation Dvar Moshe Of Horodnke on East 27th Street in the Midwood section of Brooklyn.

Marc Shaffren said he saw the fire as he walked to work. He shot video from the back of the synagogue with his cellphone.

“It was quite disturbing because we were concerned about safety of people and we knew it was a shul synagogue and we were concerned [about] safety of the people that there might have been damage or possibly destruction of very expensive Torah scrolls,” Shaffren told CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez.

Flames tore through the first-floor synagogue and the rabbi’s home on the second floor.

The Torah scrolls were on the third floor and were pulled out of the building by a firefighter before the blaze reached them. A spokesperson for the rabbi said the community was amazed by the department’s quick work and bravery.

“The whole house was burning and after the firemen left…they rescued the Torahs that came out,” the spokesperson said.

The building was completely gutted. One firefighter suffered minor injuries. Surprisingly, no one else was hurt. The congregation was grateful the damage wasn’t worse.

“The rabbi is saying that was like we consider it miraculous and it’s a wondrous thing amongst this destruction to see something beautiful like that the…Torah was saved,” the spokesperson said.

Officials said the fire was accidental and started by candles left unattended.

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