Firefighters were called to a blaze in Stamford Hill late on Tuesday night after a family’s menorah caught fire, causing extensive damage inside the property on the last night of Chanukah.
Levi Schapiro, director of the Jewish Community Council, said: “A member of the community went to bed leaving the menorah burning, which everybody does. Somehow it fell off the table and caught fire. Luckily the right people were in the right place at the right time, and nobody was injured.”
The family got out without injury but the incident caused tension after firefighters struggled to reach the house because of the number of cars parked along the road.
“They were really shouting and trying to get through traffic, with had lots of people coming, trying to help,” said Schapiro. “Obviously talking in English to a Yiddish-speaking community presented some challenges too, but we were able to assist.”
The family were relocated and the house boarded up, but Schapiro said the incident “serves as a message and reminder” to the community and a wake-up call on the dangers of lit candles.
“We’re Jews – we have candles lit all the time in the house, whether it’s for Chanukah or the Sabbath or the holidays. But whatever it is, we must be very careful where we light them, how we light them, when we light them. It’s so important, as examples like this show.”