Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies safe after fire


A large fire broke out at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies last week.

Firefighters were called to the Clarendon Institute on Walton Street, which is part of Oxford University, at 1.45pm on Thursday. Oxford Fire and Rescue Service sent four crews and a hydraulic platform to the scene.

The street was completely closed to traffic as smoke billowed across the area.

It took up to four hours to bring the blaze under control. One woman was treated for cuts to her head, but her injuries were not considered serious.

According to its website, the centre aims to be “in the vanguard of education and research on an international stage, embracing the full scope of Hebrew and Jewish Studies from antiquity to the contemporary world”.

Among its extensive collection, it houses a rabbinic library, a wide-ranging group of books on Dutch Jewry, Europe’s largest set of Yizkor books, Hebrew and Yiddish literature and many journals and periodicals.

The library was not affected by the fire, which is believed to have been started by a toaster in an office on the second floor. The centre’s staff are currently working in temporary accommodation while the extent of the damage to the building is assessed.

Watch manager Andy Hayes, from Rewley Road fire station, said: "The crews worked really quickly to gain access to the roof and stop it spreading.

"The staff on site also acted very quickly to evacuate the building and make sure everyone was safe."

The Clarendon Institute also houses the British Inter-University China Centre.

A university spokesperson said: "We understand that all occupants of the Clarendon Press Institute Building on Walton Street are safe and well.

"We would like to offer our thanks to Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service and the South Central Ambulance Service for their speedy and professional response this afternoon."

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