Historic New Jersey synagogue destroyed in fire

October 25, 2015  

An historic synagogue in New Jersey was destroyed in a fire on Friday night.

Police and fire officials said on Saturday the cause of the fire at the Congregation Poile Zedek in New Brunswick appears to be accidental, according to WABC News.

Authorities say the fire started on the first floor of the century-old building, but the exact cause is still under investigation.

The first call came in around 4:30 on Friday afternoon, WABC reported. Firefighters say a caretaker heard a bang, smelled smoke and called 911.

By the time first responders arrived, there was nothing they could do to stop the raging flames which spread quickly. Officials noted it is not all that uncommon in this type of building.

“They have large structural members a lot of open space, and usually nobody’s rally there when the fire starts. So it’s something that happens often,” Robert Rawls, the New Brunswick Fire Director, told WABC.

“It doesn’t look good for the synagogue itself, but definitely it’s a tragic loss for New Brunswick,” said John Anderson, a New Brunswick councilman.

No one was hurt in the fire, and only one of the synagogue’s Torah scrolls could be saved.

Congregation Poile Zedek Synagogue is over 100 years old and became a historic building in 1995. About 100 families belong to the Orthodox Ashkenazi synagogue, according to The Associated Press (AP).

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