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Officials Investigating Site of 3-Alarm Blaze in Lower East Side Synagogue

NY 1 - May 15, 2017

by NY 1

The city buildings department is investigating the site of a fire at a historic synagogue on the Lower East Side on Sunday night, according to an official.

The three-alarm fire at Beth Hamedrash Hagadol at 60 Norfolk St. was under control around 8:50 p.m., the city fire department said.

Witness photos and videos show that the blaze, which the FDNY first reported shortly after 7 p.m., caused heavy smoke to billow out in the area.

People in the area were advised around 8 p.m. by the city's office of emergency management to close their windows to avoid the smoke, and expect traffic delays near the blaze.

Authorities have not confirmed any fire or smoke-related injuries due to the blaze.

The building appears to have been vacant when the fire started. Records show that the department of buildings has open complaints on the building.

The Gothic structure was originally built in 1850 as a Baptist church. It later served as synagogue for the Beth Hamedrash Hagodol Orthodox Jewish congregation for over 120 years ago. The synagogue was closed in 2007.

It is considered the oldest Eastern European Orthodox Jewish Congregation in the United States.

The synagogue was given landmark status in 1967.