Fire destroys historic New Brunswick synagogue

The fire started at Congregation Poile Zedek Orthodox Shul at 145 Neilson St. at around 4:30 p.m.

The fire started at Congregation Poile Zedek Orthodox Shul at 145 Neilson St. at around 4:30 p.m. (10/24/15)

NEW BRUNSWICK - Firefighters say a historic New Brunswick synagogue that was badly damaged during a large fire Friday afternoon is likely a total loss.

The fire started at Congregation Poile Zedek Orthodox Shul at 145 Neilson St. at around 4:30 p.m. Officials say the blaze that claimed the synagogue was an accident.

The synagogue was built in 1903 and was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1996. It serves about 100 families, and is the last Orthodox synagogue in the city.

Large flames and thick black smoke could be seen billowing out of the building. Part of the building collapsed due to the fire.

One person was inside when the first started, but was able to get out safely. There were no reported injuries.

Congregants tell News 12 New Jersey that all but one of the sacred Torah scrolls were lost in the fire. A neighbor says the rabbi ran into the building and retrieved the scroll just before the ceiling collapsed.

New Brunswick fire officials say that they believe the fire started in the basement.

 

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