13 hurt as 4-alarm fire burns through 3 homes in Midwood

MIDWOOD, Brooklyn (WABC) -- Thirteen people were injured when a four-alarm fire burned through three homes Brooklyn and it appears the blaze was intentionally set.

The fire was reported on East 17th Street just after 4:05 a.m. Thursday.

The fire quickly escalated, spreading between three adjoining homes. It took firefighters some three and a half hours to get the fire under control.

Neighbors say the fact that they had working smoke detectors likely saved their lives.

"I heard children screaming, 'Help, help, help,' and then I did not hear anything," said Phil Naim, a neighbor. "I went out, I just got dressed and I went out. The only thing I was doing was praying to God that no one would be hurt, that's the only thing I wanted. Thank God everybody is safe, thank God."

"Anytime you have a large fire on arrival you're kind of overwhelming the resources." said Chief Thomas Richardson, FDNY Operations. "That's why we quickly transmitted to a third alarm so we could get additional resources on the scene much more quickly, and we were able to maintain the fire to the three buildings."

Nine residents were injured, including a six-week-old baby boy, and all were being treated for smoke inhalation.

Three firefighters and one EMT Lieutenant were also hurt. All the injured are in stable condition.

Investigators now believe the fire was likely set in a car parked in the driveway, then spread quickly to the targeted home before engulfing the walls of the adjoining homes.

Neighbors identified the homeowner as Jonathan Max, a rabbi who works at a nearby Yeshiva. He declined to discuss the fire but police are investigating the possibility that the fire was started by someone with a grudge against Rabbi Max.

The Buildings Department will evaluate the structural integrity of all three homes.

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