UPDATE: Crews working to stabilize Duluth synagogue, secure surrounding area after fire

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4:50 p.m. — The Duluth Police and Fire Departments are working to secure the building and the area surrounding Adas Israel synagogue following an early Monday morning fire.

According to Duluth Fire Chief Sean Krizaj, the building is very unstable due to a number of collapses, including part of the roof, as well as the front and west walls.

Officials say they hope to reopen roads in the area as soon as possible, and hope the area will be safe for community members by Monday night.

The building which houses Adas Israel has been a fixture in the community for more than 100 years.

Monday afternoon, several community leaders, as well as congregation members, came together for a news conference, saying they will be here to support the religious community.

One of the bright spots during the somber day included the salvaging of historical documentation, as well as eight Torahs, which are the Holy books of Judaism.

The investigation, which officials say is still in its early stages, involves two fire investigators from the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearm division in the Twin Cities.

According to Police Chief Mike Tusken, when a place of worship is struck by a fire, it isn’t out of the ordinary to involve the ATF.

In addition, Tusken said when officers arrived on scene Monday morning, Tusken said a couple of people of interest have been interviewed, however investigations are still being done.

As of Monday afternoon, officials did not comment on if they believe the fire was arson.

Krizaj says during their preliminary investigation, they have not found any sign of accelerants being used, however further investigation will need to be done after the building is stabilized.

Currently, an emergency fund created by the Minneapolis and St. Paul Jewish Federations has been created to help with costs.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC) issued the following statement regarding the fire:

“The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC) is deeply saddened by the devastating fire that appears to have destroyed much of the historic Adas Israel Congregation in downtown Duluth, MN. The Congregation dates back to the late 1800s and the building’s cornerstone was laid in 1901. We are in close communication with the leadership of Adas Israel Congregation and law enforcement in the Duluth area. The investigation into this incident is ongoing. Most importantly, we have learned that there are no fatalities connected to the fire at Adas Israel Congregation. As of 9:00 a.m., firefighters were still on scene. The Duluth Fire Marshall’s office is investigating the ’cause and origin of the fire.’ We thank the Duluth Fire Department and the Duluth Police Department for their swift response to this terrible incident. Our thoughts are with the courageous firefighter who was injured by falling debris while responding to the fire.”

The JCRC also says Duluth’s Temple Israel has opened its doors to members of Adas Israel as a temporary prayer and gathering space.

Click here for our slideshow.

You can watch the full news conference below.

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1:15 p.m. — Officials with the Duluth Fire Department and the City of Duluth will be holding a news conference regarding the fire at Adas Israel Congregation early Monday morning.

The synagogue fire caused debris to fall on a firefighter, who was hospitalized and then released after being treated.

Part of the roof collapsed, as well as the front and west walls.

No one else was injured during the fire.

As of this time, the cause, as well as where the fire started, are unknown; however, officials plan to include an update on the investigation at a news conference being held at Adas Israel at 3 p.m.

City officials say the St. Paul Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are also on scene.

Currently, a GoFundMe page, as well as an emergency fund created by the Minneapolis and St. Paul Jewish Federations, have been created.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC) issued the following statement regarding the fire:

“The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC) is deeply saddened by the devastating fire that appears to have destroyed much of the historic Adas Israel Congregation in downtown Duluth, MN. The Congregation dates back to the late 1800s and the building’s cornerstone was laid in 1901. We are in close communication with the leadership of Adas Israel Congregation and law enforcement in the Duluth area. The investigation into this incident is ongoing. Most importantly, we have learned that there are no fatalities connected to the fire at Adas Israel Congregation. As of 9:00 a.m., firefighters were still on scene. The Duluth Fire Marshall’s office is investigating the ’cause and origin of the fire.’ We thank the Duluth Fire Department and the Duluth Police Department for their swift response to this terrible incident. Our thoughts are with the courageous firefighter who was injured by falling debris while responding to the fire.”

The JCRC also says Duluth’s Temple Israel has opened its doors to members of Adas Israel as a temporary prayer and gathering space.

Check back for a stream of the conference, or click here to watch on a mobile device.





9:15 a.m. UPDATE — Fire crews say a firefighter who was hospitalized and then released after battling flames at a synagogue fire during the overnight hours Monday was hit by falling debris.

According to the Duluth Fire Department, crews arrived on scene shortly before 2:30 a.m. at the Adas Israel Congregation in downtown Duluth, and saw smoke and fire at the eaves.

Crews then began battling the flames, and did a quick search of the building as conditions quickly changed.

While inside, fire officials say a mayday call was issued for a down firefighter who was hit by falling debris.

The firefighter was rescued from the balcony level of the synagogue, and taken to St. Luke’s Hospital, where officials say he was treated and released.

More crews were called to the scene, and crews were ordered to leave the building due to the changing conditions.

After the crews left, fire officials say part of the roof collapsed, and the department changed to a defensive tactic.

At that point, the front wall collapsed, and when the fire grew, the west wall also collapsed.

No one else was injured during the fire.

As of 9 a.m., crews were still on scene, and the Duluth Fire Marshal’s office is currently investigating the cause, as well as the origin, of the fire.

A GoFundMe has been set up for the synagogue – you can donate by clicking here.

Check back for details.





8 a.m. UPDATE — KBJR 6 has learned a firefighter has been released from the hospital after responding to a fire at Duluth’s Adas Israel Congregation overnight Monday.

It wasn’t immediately clear what prompted the hospitalization.

Duluth Firefighters responded at 2:30 a.m. to the synagogue located at the corner of 3rd Avenue East and 3rd Street in downtown Duluth.

According to their website, the Adas Israel Congregation is an Orthodox/High Conservative Jewish congregation, with a membership of 75 people.

The building was established in the late 19th century.

According to Duluth city officials, roads in the area are expected to be closed for most of the day.

The following roads are closed at this time:

  • 3rd Street from 2nd Avenue East to 3rd Avenue East
  • 3rd Avenue East from 4th Street to 1st Street
  • 2nd Avenue East from 4th Street to 1st Street

Check back for updates as more information becomes available.





4:28 a.m. — Emergency crews are responding to a fire at a synagogue in downtown Duluth.

Our team responded to the scene around 3:30 a.m. at the corner of 3rd Ave. East and Third St. The building engulfed in flames is the Adas Israel Congregation.

The Duluth Fire Department had multiple crews on scene tackling the fire.

As of Monday morning, it is unknown if anyone was injured in the fire or what caused the blaze.

A neighbor tells our reporter on scene that they started to smell smoke around 1 a.m.

According to their website, the Adas Israel Congregation is an Orthodox/High Conservative Jewish congregation with a membership of 75. The building was established in the late 19th century.

In 2016, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, about 3 blocks from the Adas Israel Synagogue, was heavily damaged in a fire.

The following roads are closed in the area due to crews battling the flames:

  • 3rd Street from 2nd Avenue East to 3rd Avenue East
  • 3rd Avenue East from 4th Street to 1st Street
  • 2nd Avenue East from 4th Street to 1st Street

The below video is what the scene looked like this morning.

Click here on a mobile device for a stream of our coverage, and here for our slideshow.

This is a developing story, check back for more details.

Ryan Haff

Ryan Haff

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