WATCH: New evidence recovered at Duluth synagogue fire site

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UPDATE 4:40 p.m. — Duluth police say they have recovered new evidence at the scene of a fire that left a Duluth synagogue in ashes early Monday morning.

During a press conference at Duluth City Hall Tuesday afternoon, Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken said he could not share what the new evidence is, but he added that they have quadrupled the number of officers investigating the incident at the Adas Israel Congregation Synagogue at 3rd Street and 3rd Avenue East.

The fire, which broke out around 2:30 a.m. Monday, injured one firefighter who was hospitalized and then later released for injuries after debris fell on him.

According to Deputy Fire Marshal John Otis, the cause and origin of the fire have still not been determined.

Otis said steps have been taken since Monday to demolish parts of the building which were leaning, and debris has been taken off of the streets in the area.

Community members are being asked to avoid the area.

Tusken says the Alcohol Tobacco Fire and Explosive team from St. Paul was again on the scene Tuesday morning, and went on to say during the new conference that hundreds of hours of surveillance video will need to be reviewed.

Tusken said as of now, there is no indication that there is a threat to other places of worship.

In addition, Tusken said interviews have been done with many people in order to help gather information, since there are many apartments which may have had a vantage point of the fire.

Anyone with information is asked to call the ATF tipline, which is 1-888-283-3473.

On Tuesday, Minnesota Representatives Jen Schultz (DFL- Duluth) and Liz Olson (DFL-Duluth), issued the following statement regarding the fire which destroyed the synagogue:

“Monday morning’s fire was a heartbreaking loss for the families of the Adas Israel Congregation and our entire community. We’re grateful for the Duluth Fire Department’s rapid work extinguishing the blaze and protecting priceless Torah scrolls. Most importantly, we’re relieved no one was seriously hurt.  As this is the third place of worship on Third Street to succumb to fire in just four years, we already know how resilient Duluth’s faith community is and how quickly they come together to support one another, regardless of one’s background or tradition. There’s also a great deal of angst among those who worship, and even the possibility that hate could have been the source of the fire is a difficult idea to process. We hope the investigation will conclude the fire was indeed an accident, and not caused by an intentional attack. In the meantime, with the Jewish High Holy Days approaching, we’re confident our community will continue to provide support, warmth, and love during this unthinkable situation.”

KBJR 6 will continue to provide new details on the fire as they become available.

12:15 p.m. — City officials are planning to share an update Tuesday afternoon on their investigation into a fire that burned a Duluth synagogue to the ground early Monday morning.

According to city spokespeople, the news conference is planned for 4 p.m. at Duluth’s City Hall.

The blaze, which broke out around 2:30 a.m. at the corner of 3rd Avenue East and 3rd Street in downtown Duluth, destroyed the Adas Israel Congregation Synagogue.

One firefighter was injured by falling debris and was later released from the hospital. No other injuries were reported.

As of Monday afternoon, Duluth fire and police officials did not know the cause of the fire and did not comment on if they believe the fire was arson.

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 Monday afternoon a couple of people of interest were interviewed; however, investigations are still being done.

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.

Briggs LeSavage

Briggs LeSavage


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