Ten Hurt as Bonfire Explodes at Jewish Festival


Ten people suffered minor injuries when a bonfire exploded and sent a fireball into the gathered crowd at a Jewish festival in London, police say.

Paramedics attended the Lag BaOmer event in Stamford Hill on Wednesday with Jewish ambulance service Hatzola and London Ambulance Service also called to treat burn victims. The Metropolitan Police said there had been no reports of serious injuries or any criminal allegations.

The cause of the blast is unclear, although there are reports fuel was poured on the fire while others say at least one mobile phone was thrown into the blaze.

Video posted to social media showed dozens of people standing around the bonfire and enjoying the event. As soon as a torch was used to light the bonfire, there was an explosion that sent crowds running.

The Yeshiva World website reported “shrieks and panic” after the explosion.

Yeshiva added that the Rebbe or leader of the Chassidic Jewish movement had made a speech stressing the “dangers” of mobile phones and declared he would be burning one. Others were invited to follow.

The Jewish Chronicle reports that Orthodox Jews light bonfires on Lag Ba’Omer, with the festival said to mark the anniversary of the death of a great sage, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. A supernatural flame was said to have illuminated his bedside until he passed away, with the bonfires commemorating that flame.

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