A four-alarm fire erupted at Congregation Kehillat Jerushun on the Upper East Side Monday night. Four firefighters were treated for minor injuries sustained while fighting the blaze, which drew some 170 responders, including medical technicians.
WNBC News reported that the Torahs had been previously removed from the 110-year-old building on East 85th Street due to construction. Services are being held at a building across the street. The blaze, which started on an upper floor, was brought under control around 10 p.m.
Rabbi Haskell Lookstein, leader of the 140-year old congregation, sent the following message to members of the community Monday night:
As many of you are already aware, we have suffered a serious fire in the synagogue tonight. Thank God, no one was in the building at the time, and no person was hurt. The Sifrei Torah were not inside. The synagogue, however, appears to be extensively damaged. At this point, we do not know the impact on the adjacent school building. Fire Marshals are investigating the cause. We are grateful for the professional and speedy response of the FDNY, even as we brace for a challenging period of rebuilding.
A response to the FDNY’s tweet said the blaze could be seen as far away as Roosevelt Island. Reports cited FDNY officials as skeptical that the building, designed by George F. Pelham in 1902, could be salvaged.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.