Morning fire extinguished

Firefighter Chuck Haman walks across the backyard of a home where a fire occurred Thursday morning. The fire was contained to the utility room of the house and was extinguished quickly, according to Fire Marshal Allan Silvers.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

A fire in the home of a local rabbi around 10 a.m. Thursday near Seventh and Mitchell streets was quickly contained to a utility room and extinguished, according to Fire Marshal Allan Silvers.

Silvers said the cause of the fire is being investigated.

Rabbi Ariel De La O said he was studying in the front area of the house when the fire started. Engrossed in his studies, he said he was startled when a neighbor banged on his door.

“I thought ‘somebody needs help,’ and I’m the one that needed help,” he said, laughing.

De La O watched as firefighters knocked holes in the ceiling just inside the rear entryway of his home and tossed his burnt possessions into the yard.

A quick smile on his face, he remained upbeat and optimistic, complimenting the firefighters for their work. He explained he has no insurance but isn’t upset about the fire.

De La O, who is the rabbi of the B’Nei Yisrael synagogue at 10th and Sycamore streets, said the fire caused significant damage to his utility room and pantry.

“It could have been worse,” he said. “This is an easy one. All my people have ever done (is) survive.”