The Duluth Fire Department responded at 2:23 a.m. to a report of a structure fire at Adas Israel Congregation, a Jewish synagogue at 302 E. Third St.
The first arriving company found a storage room on the east side of a large unoccupied synagogue on fire. The synagogue had smoke and visible fire at the eave level. Crews stretched handlines to the interior of the synagogue and began fire attack on both the shed and church building. A primary search was underway as fire conditions rapidly changed. A call of a Mayday was transmitted for a down fire fighter who was struck by falling debris. The firefighter was then rescued from the balcony level of the church, and transported to St. Luke’s Hospital. He was treated and released. No other injuries were reported.
A second alarm was called to include additional command staff. At this point conditions changed, and crews were ordered to exit the building. Upon their exit, a portion of the roof collapsed, and the department transitioned to defensive operations. At that time the front exterior wall collapsed. The fire continued to grow, which then caused the west wall to collapse.
As of 9 a.m. crews were still on scene.
The Duluth Fire Marshall’s office is currently investigating the cause and origin of the fire. Fire companies from Headquarters Station, Two Station, Four Station, Six Station, Seven Station and Eight Station responded. Minnesota Power, Mayo Clinic Ambulance and the Duluth Police Department were on scene to assist. Off duty personnel were called in to ensure continuity of operations throughout the city.
Adas Israel Congregation was founded in 1885. The cornerstone of its synagogue was laid in 1901 and the building was dedicated in 1902.
The Duluth News Tribune reports that members of temple leadership guided Duluth firefighters as they extracted eight of the synagogue’s 14 Torahs from the basement. The scrolls contain the first five books of the Hebrew Scripture.
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