A fast-moving fire in New Jersey on Friday destroyed a historic synagogue in New Brunswick, reports said. Officials said, according to the Associated Press, that just one among several sacred scrolls was rescued from the fire that started at 4:30 p.m. in Poile Zedek, an Orthodox Ashkenazic synagogue. No injuries were reported.
Fire officials received the call from a caretaker, who said that he heard a bang inside the synagogue and smelled fire. However, by the time officials reached, there was nothing they could do to stop the fire from spreading, WABC, an ABC News affiliate for New York, reported. Officials added that the fire spreading fast in such buildings was common.
"They have large structural members a lot of open space, and usually nobody's really there when the fire starts. So it's something that happens often," Robert Rawls, the New Brunswick Fire Director, said according to WABC.
Only one of the synagogue’s sacred Sefer Torah scrolls could be saved as all others burnt down in the blaze.
"To lose that (the scrolls), it's like losing your most precious religious object. It's like God forbid there should be a fire in a synagogue, if it's possible to rescue anything from it then the torah scrolls are the first priority," Ari Goldring, a congregant said, according to WABC, adding: "It was such a beautiful building and it's now all gone. I don't know like right now, it's still, I'm kind of numb."
According to a report by USA Today, a rabbi for the congregation, Abraham Mykof, ran into the blazing building to save the Sefer Torah, a handwritten holy scroll.
"I saw him (Mykof) watching the firemen go in. I knew inside they had the Sefer Torah," Donny Zinkin, who lived just doors away from the building, said, according to USA Today, adding that Mykof sprinted in to get the scroll. "When he came out, he gave it to me," Zinkin said, according to USA Today.
New Brunswick Councilman John Anderson said, according to USA Today: "It’s really been here all this time doing a lot of work for the community," adding: “It’s devastating for the city of New Brunswick and the community."
The synagogue is over 100 years old and it was termed as a historic building in 1995, WABC reported.
— Lidia Curanaj (@LidiaNews) October 24, 2015
— Natalie Pasquarella (@Natalie4NY) October 23, 2015
Flames just burst thru back part of roof now. Can see them in the windows too. Poile Zedek synagogue New Brunswick pic.twitter.com/rH4NXioX85
— Patrick Murray (@PollsterPatrick) October 23, 2015
— Eyewitness News (@ABC7NY) October 23, 2015