FDNY helps residents with safety concerns after deadly Brooklyn fire

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(PIX11)-- The flames that shot out of 3371 Bedford Avenue, have long been extinguished, but the cause of the horrific fire that took seven young lives has left the close knit Orthodox Jewish community in Midwood, Brooklyn with serious concerns over a Sabbath ritual.

Investigators blame the fire on a malfunctioning electric hot plate left on overnight for the Sabbath.   It’s something Melissa Pupko can relate to.  She uses one too for the same purpose.

“Maybe it’s worth it to have cold food on the Sabbath.  It’s a pretty difficult situation everyone is faced with,” said Pupko, a mother of three.

The weekly day of rest lasts from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.  And during that period, observers, among many other things, cannot turn on or off an appliance, or light a flame.

That means meals must be prepared ahead of time, and to keep the food warm overnight, a person has to turn on the hot plate before sundown, and not touch it again until after sundown the next day.

The same applies to a so-called blech—a metal plate that sits on a gas burner, set on low.

“A situation like this makes you want to know a lot more at this point, especially when you have kids,” said Allison Braverman, who observes the Sabbath.

The FDNY’s Fire Safety Education unit has always made available literature with safety tips geared specifically for the needs of the Orthodox community.  Captain Kevin Anderson said he understands the delicate balance between sticking

to Jewish law, and staying safe.

“We would never tell people how to follow their religious beliefs and customs, but we will instruct them and educate them on how to do it safely,” Captain Anderson said.