No injuries after fire destroys synagogue in Rockland County

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Wednesday, April 17, 2024
Fire destroys synagogue in Rockland County
Marcus Solis has reaction after a fire destroyed a synagogue in Pomona.

POMONA, Rockland County (WABC) -- Firefighters battled a large fire that destroyed a synagogue in Rockland County on Wednesday morning.

Flames broke out at the building on North Ridge Road at around 6 a.m.

Video from NewsCopter 7 showed a huge column of smoke rising from the structure. The smoke could be seen for miles.

The fire was discovered by a congregant who went to pray in the synagogue, encountered smoke and called 911.

By the time police and firefighters arrived, the building was fully engulfed in flames.

Windows were blowing out due to the intensity of the blaze, and fire had spread to brush behind the structure.

By the time situation was placed under control, just a part of the front wall was still standing and the roof had collapsed.

Fortunately, no one was injured.

Investigators are now working to determine what caused the fire.

"It's going to take a while," said Capt. John Gould of the Haverstraw Police Department. "As you can probably see, the house has a lot of debris, a lot of rubble that has to be sifted through."

The building is located in a residential area and used to be a house. It was purchased about a year ago and converted into a full-time house of worship.

It is listed in public records as the Chassidim of the Heights, a Lubavitch synagogue.

There was construction underway that began about a week ago to expand the facility.

It is unclear whether the construction work played any role in the cause of the fire.

Another focal point of the operation was to unearth a safe that had been in the basement.

Eyewitness News was there Wednesday afternoon as work was underway to open the safe from the pile of charred debris.

Once the door to the safe was finally removed, three Torahs that were inside were carefully whisked away so that the condition of the sacred religious items could be assessed.

If they were found not to be in good condition, they would be buried as part of a special service.

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