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Graphic

Blaze heavily damages historic New York synagogue

August 28, 1998
Web posted at: 10:12 p.m. EDT (2212 GMT)

NEW YORK (CNN)-- A spectacular five-alarm fire roared through an historic synagogue in Manhattan late Friday afternoon, just before evening services were to begin, damaging the structure severely.

About 250 firefighters and 45 trucks battled the blaze for more than two hours at the Central Synagogue, a Reform congregation on Lexington Avenue. Three firefighters suffered minor injuries.

Officials said the fire appeared to have been sparked by a worker's torch; the building was being renovated.

RELATED VIDEO
Scenes from the fire
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Congregants and commuters jammed streets around the building, making it hard at times for fire engines to get close.

"It's absolutely terrible," said Gayle Popkin, who was married in the synagogue four years ago. "That synagogue is so beautiful."

The Moorish-style building, built between 1870 and 1872, is billed as the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the city. It is listed on the National Historic Register.




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