Orthodox Jewish custom poses deadly fire danger

Written By kom nampuldu on Minggu, 22 Maret 2015 | 20.49

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Firefighters work to rescue people from the Brooklyn home that went up in flames.

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In the city's Orthodox Jewish enclaves, Friday nights can be deadly.

Candles, hot plates and ovens are often left on overnight in a dangerous Sabbath practice, fire officials say.

After sundown Friday, observant Jews are forbidden from "working" — which includes turning on appliances or lighting flames. So before the Sabbath begins, many will ignite ceremonial candles, or turn on stoves to keep food warm — and leave them on until Shabbat ends at sundown Saturday.

Saturday's deadly fire in Midwood, Brooklyn, was ignited by a malfunctioning hot plate apparently still on past midnight, officials said.

After the blaze, firefighter George Tabeek of the FDNY's Fire Safety Education Unit was out distributing fire-safety pamphlets on Bedford Avenue near the home. The effort will continue Sunday.

"We have had fires through the years because of issues like this or similar to this," Tabeek said.

"This isn't the first time this has happened, and unfortunately, it won't be the last, but we're encouraging people to make sure they have working smoke alarms. That may have made all the difference here."

In April 2005, three boys died in a blaze at an apartment complex in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It was caused by stovetop burners left on during Passover.

The holiday custom led to 35 kitchen fires at the 600-unit complex over a period of months, a published report said at the time.

An FDNY spokesman said the department routinely holds fire-safety events before holidays and celebrations.

More than 30 Jewish leaders met at FDNY headquarters in 2012 to help reduce injuries.

Additional reporting by Natalie Musumeci


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