(JTA) — Neighbors of a historic synagogue on Manhattan’s Lower East Side reportedly said a fire erupted inside the building just days before the three-alarm blaze all but destroyed Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Sunday night.
Local residents told the New York Post that the first blaze broke out inside the vacant building, but the paper said it could not confirm the report.
The fire at the 120-year-old synagogue building 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.
The fire chief has said the fire started inside the building, NBC New York reported. The cause is still under investigation, but the revelation that a second blaze also started inside would suggest they might have been started deliberately or accidentally by vagrants.
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.