Fire erupts at Midwood yeshiva; dorm residents evacuated

Brooklyn Currents | 11/21/2013 | 0 comments

Brooklyn Currents Editor

An electrical fire broke out on the second floor of Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin at 1605 Coney Island Ave. in Midwood on Wednesday evening, Nov. 20, causing dozens of students to be evacuated from their darkened dorm rooms.

Students rescued religious articles from the fire (Brooklyn Currents photo)
A maintenance staffer who was working on an electrical panel on the second floor was injured and taken to Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan for treatment of burns after the panel exploded, igniting the fire.  Yeshiva officials said Thursday that the man was recovering at home.

Sixty firefighters in 12 units responded to the blaze – which engulfed much of the second floor in thick smoke – at 8:12 p.m., and brought it under control at 9:22 p.m., the FDNY said.

"It was really scary," one student said.

"My shoes were soaking up the water," said another as he stood outside with other young men waiting to see if they could go back in to retrieve any of their belongings. Most had been able to leave with their bags containing  prayer shawls and other religious articles, which were placed in rows on a table on the sidewalk.

Some two dozen alumni and local merchants came to the aid of the yeshiva in the wee hours of Thursday morning, a yeshiva official said. One of them opened his electronics store at about 3 a.m. to provide needed supplies.

Wednesday evening's wait to go back inside the building was in vain. At about 10 p.m., yeshiva officials locked down the building, disallowing anyone from re-entering.

By Thursday morning, the yeshiva was opened for studies and prayers, but the dorms remained closed. Ararngements were under way to house students from out-of-town home addresses.


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