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Fire damages synagogue, home in Brooklyn

April 4, 2013 2:12:40 PM PDT
The flames were shooting out of the top floor of the private home in Midwood.

The fire broke out in the home on East 27th Street just before 10 a.m.

The home of Rabbi Chanoch Ashkenazi is also home to his synagogue. His temple has served this tightly knit orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn for nearly 40 years until today.

"You see what happened. Unfortunately, an act of God. What we can do?" he said.

It took about 75 firefighters to tackle the smoky blaze.

The rabbi's wife was home at the time it started, and then she ran out.

"I was alone in the whole house," she said. "I did what I had to do. God gave me the strength."

The next challenge -- to save 4 different torahs inside the temple. Firefighters risked smoke inhalation and the threat of a building collapse, to do save all four. Three firefighters were injured in the blaze.

"A couple of minutes into the operation, we found out where the torahs were. The guys went in there, and we did remove them safely," Chief Matthew Nelson of the FDNY said.

Numerous prayer books are either damaged or destroyed as well as the rabbi's father's possessions from the holocaust.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.