Arsonists strike at Jewish school in New Jersey

April 23, 2009 4:16:18 PM PDT
Investigators in New Jersey aren't quite sure what to make of a fire at a Jewish school for girls.The fire was definitely set intentionally, but school officials in Union City are reluctant to call it a bias crime.

But since it's religious school, police are pursuing it as a possible bias crime.

Flames were seen coming out of a far-side stairwell on the side of the Bnoz Sans Educational Center in Union City.

The principal told Eyewitness News he decided to keep the school open because it would be less disruptive for the girls.

"We have to look at the bright side and be thankful nothing bad happened," said Rabbi Hersch Turner.

It was 9 p.m. when the fire was set in a pile of brush on top of a desk under the stairwell.

Surveillance cameras caught two men running away from the building at the time of the fire.

"There was pieces of wood, there was cardboard, there was everything there could be to cause a big fire," Rabbi Turner said.

The police chief says early reports that a shape of a cross was burned are incorrect.

"My information is that we had one piece of wood that was not in the form of a cross, and there as no indication that there was a cross or a religious symbol," Charles Everett said.

A 5-year-old girl, who is a student at the school, was the first to see and report the fire. That girl's father is the one credited for putting out the fire so quickly.

The school is for children ages 2 1/2 to 12.

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WEB PRODUCED BY:Scott Curkin


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