Fire destroys historic Lower East Side synagogue

LOWER EAST SIDE, Manhattan –– Firefighters battled fire at a historic synagogue in lower Manhattan Sunday evening that sent smoke billowing across the skyline.

The blaze began at 60 Norfolk St. in the Lower East Side around 7 p.m. It quickly grew to a 3-alarm fire inside the abandoned building, according to the FDNY. The fire was placed under control less than three hours later.

For many, part of Lower East Side history at 60 Norfolk street is now gone forever.

"It's heartbreaking," Frieda Fried, a lifelong Lower East Side resident said. "But since it had been abandoned, there are no sacred scrolls inside burning."

This congregation was founded in 1852 and was said to be the oldest Russian Jewish orthodox one in the United States until it was abandoned ten years ago.

"We are watching the etching away if a part of our history," Clayton Patterson, another local resident said. "It is sad."

More than 100 firefighters fought for hours to bring the flames under control while spectators talked about the gorgeous interiors of the synagogue.

The Gothic revival structure was originally the Norfolk Street Baptist Church until it was converted into a synagogue.

Many said the structure was landmarked, but there had been a recent move to demolish the structure to turn it into condominiums.

"It was an absolutely beautiful synagogue," Fried said. "And now it will probably come down completely."

There were no injuries and fire officials say it is too soon to determine the cause of the fire or do announce it is suspicious or not.