Fire tears through Brooklyn synagogue, state senator's mother among those rescued

BOROUGH PARK, Brooklyn (WABC) -- A fire tore through a synagogue that operates out of a home in Brooklyn Wednesday morning, and the 101-year-old mother of a local politician and two children were among those rescued from the burning structure.

The flames broke out just before 8 a.m. at the Congregation Bais Aharon on 18th Avenue in Borough Park, at the synagogue founded by State Senator Simcha Felder's late father in the 1950s.

"We had a fire in the first floor of a two-story house of worship," FDNY Deputy Chief James Boylan said. "Members removed three people from the second floor, a mother and two children. Hatzolah Ambulance Services removed State Senator Felder's mother from the first floor prior to units arrival. She was removed in a wheelchair. Everybody is doing OK."

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The woman and the children were carried down a ladder by firefighters.

"The guys did a great job," Boylan said. "They saved some lives, they saved some sacred documents, so that's a win for the FDNY."

Rabbi Leonard Unger called the rescues a miracle.

"The fire department? They're going to go straight to heaven when their time comes," he said. "Right to the Kingdom of God."

Firefighters desperately but deliberately ran a ladder to a rear window and carefully lowered the children and their mother to safety moments before the flames ripped through their upstairs apartment.

"I saw miracles this morning with them," Rabbi Unger said. "They're so intense in what they're doing. They don't see anything. They ran up, they took her and the children down."

He said he ran up to one of the firefighters and couldn't help himself.

"I kissed him on the shoulder," he said.

The fire left the building gutted, but the sacred Torahs were saved.

"It's been a hub in the community for prayer services, three times a day, seven days a week," Hatzolah liaison Jack Meyer said. "And they just finished services apparently this morning as well."

The fire was under control within an hour.

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No injuries were reported, and the cause of the fire is under investigation.

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