NEW YORK (May. 13)
Three residents of the Chabad Lubavitcher House on the UCLA campus in Westwood, Los Angeles, were killed in a fire which swept through the three-storey building in the early hours of this morning Three of the six persons in the house at the time escaped by jumping through windows. One of them was injured as was one of the 55 firemen who battled the blaze. The Fire Department said the building was a total loss and estimated the damage of 51 million.
The B’nai B’rith Messenger of Los Angeles informed the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the Fire Department has labeled the fire of suspicious origin, pending completion of an investigation now underway. The building served as West Coast headquarters of the Chabad Lubavitcher movement.
According to Ronald Solomon, managing editor of the B’nai B’rith Messenger, one of the victims was a 17-year-old student from Beverly Hills, another was a recently arrived immigrant from the Soviet Union in his mid-twenties, and the third was a 32-year-old handyman. The names of the dead were not announced, pending notification of next of kin.
The fire started at approximately 1a.m. Los Angeles time, reportedly in the basement, and spread through the stairwells. Twelve firefighting units were of the scene some 10 minutes later but by then the building was practically gutted, the JTA was told. Three Torah scrolls were burned, two of them beyond repair.