NEW YORK — A three-alarm fire seriously damaged a historic synagogue on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
The fire at the Beth Hamedrash Hagadol synagogue broke out on Sunday evening and burned for several hours. It took at least two hours for firefighters to bring the blaze under control, and it burned for several hours afterwards, according to reports.
It is not clear how the fire started, according to reports. An investigation will be led by the fire marshal, though the fire chief has said the fire started inside the building, NBC New York reported.
The building was empty at the time of the fire. Two firefighters reportedly were injured while fighting to bring the blaze under control.
Huge fire on the Lower East Side pic.twitter.com/N2tDUMa9Ds
— Samantha Guff (@DoctorGuff) May 14, 2017
The Gothic-style building was built in 1850 as a Baptist Church and purchased in 1885 to become the first Eastern European congregation, which served Orthodox Russians, founded in New York City. The congregation closed the synagogue in 2007 after it determined that it did not have the between $3 million and $4 million needed to repair the building. The building was declared a city landmark in 1967. In 2003, it was designated an endangered historic site.
Local residents told the New York Post that another fire had broken out in the building last week, though it was not confirmed by the newspaper.
Eds. Note: The Lo-Down publication posted photos this morning showing the building gutted. You can view the photos here.