Another Fire in Kiryas Joel, the Fourth in March
Yesterday there was a fire in Kiryas Joel, which destroyed a 3 family home and a basement synagogue at 12 Lizensk Boulevard and Schunnemunk Road. The basement synagogue, likely there to avoid the tax implications associated with owning a home and not a 501(c)(3) religious entity, could hold, according to an ABCNews report, between 30 and 50 people.
Both reports on the fire indicate that it was difficult to fight because there were numerous people standing around interfering with the firefighters and because the streets are so narrow and the area so crowded, it is difficult for fire and emergency medical personnel to approach the scene.
The fire started somewhere between 1 and 2 pm.
Thankfully, all of the people got out without injury. A firefighter was treated on the scene for smoke inhalation. According to the reports on the fire, firefighters from eight companies were called in. No surprise, the building was gutted and will be demolished (and rebuilt, of course).
theyeshivaworld, reported that “Sifrei Torah Saved From Kiryas Joel Fire.” We had no doubt that there would be no Sifrei Torah destroyed in the fire. Most of the books were likely removed before the fire started so that when the fire broke out (was set), there would be little need to carry holy books out of a burning building.
A Google search on fires in Kiryas Joel and cross referencing is quite staggering in terms of how many fires there are in such a small neighborhood, the similarities in terms of times of day and the presence or lack thereof of children at the scene. With only 1.1 square miles and so many fires, with so many families comprised of numerous children, disproportionately few of the fires in the neighborhood have required removing children from the homes. Most of the fires over the last few years have occurred (or were set) during hours when children were not there and in nearly none of the fires were holy books burned.
On March 11, 2016, recordonline reported that firefighters in the Village of Kiryas Joel were called to three separate fires, one a serious 3-alarm blaze that broke out in the late morning on Satmar Drive. The other two, in the evening on Sasev Court and Rovna Court, respectively. The two latter fires were called in around 7:30pm.
We are not the first to report on fires within the neighborhood of Kiryas Joel, nor is this the first time that someone writing on the topic has speculate that arson is involved. And, while Arson has not yet been formally suspected in yesterday’s fire, we hope that someone will take a closer look. Perhaps rather than relying on the local firefighters, the various insurance companies making payouts on likely claims would consider sending in their own people to investigate.