A devastating fire which broke out on Friday has wrecked a historic New Jersey synagogue, it has recently been reported.
The building which was ruined by the flames was the Congregation Poile Zedek, an Orthodox Ashkenazic synagogue, located at 145 Neilson Street, in New Brunswick, Middlesex County.
The multiple-alarm fire began at around 4:30 p.m., apparently at the third floor, and wreaked havoc throughout the house of worship, and on surrounding structures as well.
Authorities were summoned by the synagogue’s caretaker, who was alone in the building when the flames took over. Initially, the man heard a loud banging sound, and afterwards he witnessed smoke progressively engulf the synagogue.
Upon arriving at the scene, first responders from the New Brunswick Fire Department didn’t see any flames, until the windows from the second and third floor were ventilated.
Afterwards however, massive fire shot through the windows and roof, and a total of 8 fire fighting units had to be called in order to put out the blast.
Officials issued an immediate evacuation order for those trapped inside the buildings located in the vicinity of the synagogue, while the neighborhood remained crammed with fire trucks.
Because of the dangers associated with fire, heat and structural collapse, tower ladders were employed in a “surround and drown” effort, mean to contain the destruction.
Eventually, firefighters managed to vanquish the flames, but the damage caused by the fire is extensive. By 6 p.m., just the frame of the synagogue was still standing, and the roof had partially collapsed, while everything else had been combusted in a matter of minutes.
“It’s significant. This building is significant and very historic building, and you know, the community is going to miss it, I’m sure”, declared Robert Rawls, New Brunswick Fire Department Director.
The construction of the synagogue had been finalized in 1924, and the building had been included in the National and State Registers of Historic Places in 1995.
Around 100 families from the Poile Zedek congregation attended services there, and several students from Rutgers University also used to pray at the worship house.
According to witnesses, just one sacred Sefer Torah survived the devastating blast after Rabbi Abraham Mykoff rushed inside the burning building and retrieved the precious scroll, while the other holy books are now lost forever.
On the other hand, no injuries have been reported, given that no religious service had been scheduled at the time, and the only person who was present in the synagogue managed to safely leave the building.
For now, the cause of the fire is still being investigated, but is not being treated as suspicious, law enforcement has recently confirmed.
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