A huge fire ripped through a Jewish school in Canvey Island, Essex, on Sunday night, causing “significant” damage to the building.
Emergency services were called just before 9pm, with firefighters reporting that the fire was “well-established” by the time of their arrival at the Luzern Yeshiva in Mepple Avenue.
Fortunately there were no people inside the building at the time of the fire, while the school’s Torah scrolls had only “minor damage”.
The yeshiva’s 100 students were instead at the home of the school dean, Rabbi Moshe Koppelman, celebrating the first night of Chanukah, according to reports from Arutz Sheva.
Crews from seven brigades took two hours to bring the fire under control, both on ground level and from above, using an aerial ladder platform and finally extinguished the flames by 11.15pm.
In a statement posted on social media, community spokesman Joel Friedman said the cause of the fire may have been “a misplaced candle, left unattended and fell over. There is no suggestion of foul play.”
According to initial reports, the damage is limited to half of a one-storey building to the rear of the site, where the roof has collapsed.
He added: “We are touched by all the good wishes received and even more so by the many offers of assistance from the local neighbours and friends in the area and of those passing by.
“Canvey truly is an amazing place – where people come together in their time of need.
“A special thank you to the emergency service for putting themselves in harm’s way and doing a fantastic and professional job.
“First and foremost, to Essex Fire & Rescue – the Police – the Ambulance services (HART), power and gas utility companies who attended the site to ensure health and safety.”
Luzern Yeshiva stands on a 3.5 acre site previously occupied by Castle View School, which was bought by a Jewish philanthropist in 2017 for £1.7million, for the Canvey Island community.
The fire service is now carrying out an investigation to determine the cause of the fire.