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Fire Breaks Out at Williamsburg Matzo Factory, FDNY Says

By Gwynne Hogan | February 21, 2017 5:34pm
 The fire started in a newly installed oven, a worker at the matzo factory said.
The fire started in a newly installed oven, a worker at the matzo factory said.
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DNAinfo/Gwynne Hogan

WILLIAMSBURG — A fire broke out Tuesday at a Williamsburg matzo factory with outstanding fines for having no sprinkler system, the FDNY and workers said.

The blaze started in a wood-burning oven that was recently installed and was being used for the first time at 4:04 a.m. at 423 Broadway, said a manager at the factory who declined to give his name.

The flames spread through the ceiling. It took two hours before firefighters managed to extinguish them, said FDNY officials and a spokesman for the factory.

"The damage was extensive to the matzo," said Rabbi David Niederman, head of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn, speaking on behalf of the factory.

"It's a tremendous loss but it's not an issue that there will be no matzo," he said, adding that the factory should restart production of the unleavened bread in the next few days.

The matzo factory, which has baked matzo on Broadway for the last 60 years, is owned and run by Williamsburg's Congregation Yetev Lev D'Satmar, according to city records.

The congregation currently owes the city $41,293 in fines for outstanding code violations, city records show.

The violations include an open $5,000 fine from March of 2016 for not having sprinklers in the area where they had wood burning ovens or in a storage area with combustible boxes and materials, according to records kept by the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings.

Department of Buildings spokesman Andrew Rudansky confirmed that the violation for failing to have sprinklers was still active, though Rabbi Niederman said extensive renovations had been done since the violation, sprinklers had been installed and owners were waiting for the paperwork to go through.

Fire officials said no one was injured in the blaze, which was first reported by Yeshiva World News.