Report: 3 ‘Kids’ Seen Fleeing Beth Hamedrash Hagadol as it Erupted in Flames
Less than 24 hours after the Beth Hamedrash Hagadol synagogue became an inferno, sources tell the New York Post that three people were seen fleeing the historic house of worship just as it burst into flames.
The FDNY is reportedly still trying to determine the cause of the three-alarm fire, which left the 167-year-old landmark completely destroyed.
“We see kids running from the area — we don’t know if they were inside, we don’t know if they were responsible for the fire,” said 7th Precinct CO Steve Hellman told DNAinfo.
“It is still under investigation, but it does seem suspicious due to the fact we saw individuals in the proximity possibly [around] the time of the fire,” he added.
In an ironic, albeit tragic twist of fate, the blaze happened on the Jewish Festival of Lag BaOmer, often celebrated in Israel with bonfires.
Preservation of Beth Hamedrash Hagadol seemed futile in recent years. The upkeep of the structure became too expensive for congregants. Moreover, even though it’s been protected since 1967, spiritual leader Rabbi Mendel Greenbaum had, at one point in the past, petitioned the LPC to de-landmark the structure so that condominiums could be built instead.