New Iberia synagogue catches fire; former synagogue building in Lafayette also suffers fire damage
(JTA) — A historic 116-year-old synagogue in southern Louisiana caught fire following a lightning strike.
The Reform Congregation Gates of Prayer building in New Iberia, Louisiana, sustained smoke and water damage remained intact, local ABC affiliate KATC reported after a fire started in the attic on Wednesday.
The blaze was contained there after a neighboring business noticed smoke billowing out on the roof and called the fire department.
The following day a fire completely destroyed a synagogue building in nearby Lafayette that had closed in the 1990s, KATC reported.
The New Iberia synagogue celebrated its first official service in 1904 and the building is listed on the National Historic Register.
Firefighters removed the Torah scrolls from the synagogue’s sanctuary and kept them safe in their fire truck, according to the report.
“The citizens of New Iberia have been extremely generous in their response to this event. Within hours of the fire, several churches in town had contacted me to offer their buildings to our Congregation as a place to hold our religious services if needed,” synagogue president Robert Lahasky said in a letter to the community published Saturday in the Daily Iberian.
In Lafayette, Fire Department spokesman Alton Trahan told KATC the fire started from inside the building. It is believed that squatters were living inside.
The fire at Congregation Gates of Prayer Synagogue on N. Weeks Street is out. New Iberia Fire Chief Gordon Copell said the damage was confined to the temple's attic. https://t.co/rxHXJleqGl
— The Daily Iberian (@DailyIberian1) April 29, 2020