Askonim from both Kensington and beyond are joining forces to help 7 families, members of the frum community, who were displaced by a fast moving fire last Motzei Shabbos that burned 3 houses on East 3rd Street in Kensington. At a meeting Wednesday night, the Askonim pledged to go all out to help these families including finding them temporary housing and replacing their possessions many of which were not covered by insurance. Present at the meeting were representatives from Yeshiva Derech Chaim, Chasdei Lev, Dzerka Bais Medrash, COJO Flatbush, Agudath Israel, and Boro Park Jewish Community Council.
The roaring fire which was fueled by strong winds, ripping through the row of houses began late Motzei Shabbos as a small electrical fire in a ground floor apartment on East 3rd Street between Cortelyou Road and Avenue C. As the residents of the home were not there at the time, the fire quickly spread through the entire apartment and to the apartment upstairs. Through nissim a prominent magid shiur in a local yeshiva who lives in the upstairs apartment arrived home just in time to rouse his wife and 8 children, most of whom were already sleeping, and bring them out to safety. Within moments the entire house was engulfed in flames. As helpless neighbors watched, the howling winds carried the fire to the house next door which quickly caught on as well. Bechasdei Hashem, all the occupants of those houses were safely evacuated as well. Although the structures of the houses remained intact, and some items such as seforim and selected clothing were able to be salvaged, most of what was left remains in shambles covered in soot, water and mold.
Before the firefighters even left the block, local askonim had already sprung into action. One askan arranged for two storeowners to open their stores at midnight to allow some of the families to get clothes and shoes. Others arranged for hot meals and places to stay overnight. Both Yad Ephraim and Masbia helped provide food those first few days for the displaced occupants. Though these responses are heartwarming, it is but a drop in the bucket to what is really needed. Five of the families were renters and had no insurance for any damaged contents. They must literally begin from scratch and acquire new furniture, clothes and household items. They are also in need of temporary housing as it can take months before these damaged homes are ready for occupancy once again.
The Boro Park Jewish Community Council has set up a special emergency fund to help alleviate the effected families. Online donations may be made by clicking here or may be sent by mail to Boro Park JCC, 4912 14th Avenue, 3rd floor, Brooklyn, NY 11219. Please indicate that the contribution is for the East 3rd Street Fire Fund. For more information call 718-972-6600 ext 7214 or contact Rabbi Yeruchim Silber at email@example.com.
Finally, the askonim strongly recommend that all renters purchase renters insurance so that their possessions are insured in case of a fire chas vesholom. These policies are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased for as little as $200-250 a year.