Fire at historic New Jersey synagogue believed accidental

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — A three-alarm fire that destroyed a historic synagogue in New Jersey appears to be accidental after a preliminary investigation.

The fire on Friday at the Polie Zedek synagogue in New Brunswick, New Jersey, left only the shell of the building and destroyed everything inside, according to local reports.

One of the Torah scrolls was saved when the synagogue’s rabbi, Abraham Mykoff, raced into the building and carried it out. The ceiling collapsed as he left the burning building, preventing the recovery of the other sacred scrolls.

The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.

The synagogue’s caretaker was in the building on Friday afternoon when the fire started. He called emergency services and safely evacuated the building, according to reports.

Roads around the building were closed and adjacent buildings evacuated out of fear that the fire would spread.

An investigation continues into the cause of the fire, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey, New Brunswick police chief Anthony Caputo and county fire marshal Michael Gallagher announced on Saturday.

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