Police: Man charged with reckless endangerment in synagogue fire

Posted: Updated:
BEDFORD-STUYVESANT -

Police say a 71-year-old man is charged in connection with a synagogue fire Tuesday morning in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Sources tell News 12 that the man, identified as Caesor Raynor, was repairing the roof of B'nai Adath Kol Beth Yisrael on Patchen Avenue when he set it ablaze.

Video shows two people scrambling up the roof when the fire was still relatively tame.

Sources say Raynor was loosening tiles with a blowtorch, which then ignited the fire shortly after 9 a.m. It quickly erupted into an inferno, with flames and thick, black smoke bursting through the chilly air. The flames were under control by noon.

News 12 is told that three firefighters suffered minor injuries during the battle.

Raynor is charged with two counts of reckless endangerment, police say.

The synagogue's rabbi says the congregation has occupied the building since 1967. The building has been in place since around 1860, but its construction began sometime in the 1700s.

Engineers from the Department of Buildings will inspect the structural integrity of the building. Once the city's investigation is completed, sources say the synagogue will have to bring in its own inspectors and determine whether it's worth repairing or opt to tear it down and start from scratch.

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