Brooklyn menorah fire not suspicious, officials say

September 5, 2013 9:47:54 AM PDT
Investigators say smokers may be to blame for sparking a fire that burned a menorah to the ground in Brooklyn Tuesday night.

The incident happened outside Chabad Lubavitch on Ocean Parkway in the Kensington late Tuesday night, and hours before the start of the celebration of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah.

At first, the NYPD Hate Crimes task force got involved, and police added extra patrols near temples and synagogues as a precaution. However, investigators said on Thursday that the incident is not considered a bias crime.

The six-foot wooden menorah sits in front of the building, which is under renovation and was deserted at the time.

Garbage is frequently dumped in an area next to the wooden menorah. Near that trash pile, investigators found numerous discarded cigarette butts. The investigative premise is that smokers dropping cigarette butts out the window of the neighboring building ignited the trash, and the fire then spread to the wooden menorah.

The fire marshals investigation is still ongoing, but officials say there is enough evidence to say the fire is not suspicious and not a bias crime.