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Huge Fire Rips Through Crown Heights Apartment Building

By  Mary Johnson Meredith Hoffman and Alan Neuhauser | September 3, 2012 10:11am | Updated on September 3, 2012 2:04pm

BROOKLYN — A massive fire ripped through a four-story building in Crown Heights early Monday, displacing residents and injuring 22 people and firefighters, FDNY officials said.

The four-alarm blaze started in a second-floor apartment around 2:30 a.m. on Carroll Street near Kingston Avenue, a fire department spokesman stated. It was the apartment's second fire in less than four months, residents said, and it was brought under control around 4:15 a.m.

The 11 hurt firefighters suffered minor injuries and were transported to Kings County Hospital, Cornell Hospital and SUNY Downstate Hospital. Eleven civilians were treated at the scene.

"God knows what happened," said Dvorah Eidelman, 43, who said the blaze started in her uncle's apartment.

The unit was undergoing renovations from a May 28 fire, Eidelman recounted, which started after the uncle, Mordechi Gil, left a pot on the stove. Gil, who went to live with friends while the repair work was being performed, could not be reached for comment.

Eli Raskin, a father of four who lives in the building, said he awoke around 3 a.m. Monday to the sound of a smoke detector going off.

“I told my wife to grab our 7-month-old baby,” said Raskin, who then ran to get his other children, ages 3, 6 and 7, out of the house.

“By the time we got down the stairs, we couldn’t see a thing,” he added.

Raskin said the only possessions he could salvage from the fire-ravaged building were several photo albums and religious items.

“I don’t know what woke me,” Raskin said. “It was a miracle.”

Zee Rocker, who lives in the neighborhood, stood outside the building in tears on Monday morning. Rocker said she had been caring for the cat of a friend who lives in the building where the fire broke out.

But Rocker said the 7-year-old cat, Mashka, had yet to be found.

“I was taking care of her beloved cat twice a day,” Rocker said of her friend, who is in Israel. “They have a very special relationship. I can’t even describe it.”

Fire officials said it was not immediately clear what started the fire. They declined to state whether it was suspicious.