Fire destroys historic synagogue in Manhattan

The blaze which started at 7 p.m. quickly spread to three alarms as onlookers watched the flames from blocks away

Fire destroys historic synagogue in Manhattan

More than 100 firefighters battled the three-alarm blaze Sunday evening at the abandoned Beth Hamedrash Hagodol on 64 Norfolk Street. There were no injuries but the massive fire left plumes of smoke wafting over lower Manhattan.

Instead, it's a heap of charred ruins, having been destroyed by a fire Sunday that police are investigating as possible arson.

The synagogue, built in the Gothic Revival style, opened in 1850 as a Baptist church, according to city records.

Holly Kaye, who worked for several years to preserve the historic building, said she does not suspect the fire was the result of a hate crime or anti-Semitism.

The fire was extinguished, but the synagogue suffered significant damage.

"And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein".

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Although the building has been vacant since 2007, it once served as the oldest place of worship for orthodox Russian Jews in the country and has remained a historic landmark, until now.

The raging inferno was extinguished by 12:02 a.m. Monday, according to the FDNY, but New York's ABC affiliate said surrounding streets were still blocked off Monday morning as firefighters put out hot spots. They have been stored in Brooklyn, he said, since the building shut its doors.

"No way we can search the first floor, with what collapsed on top of it", said Manhattan Borough Commander Roger Sakowich.

"It was an absolutely handsome synagogue", Fried said.

The congregation began using the synagogue in 1885.

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