Police in Duluth, Minnesota have arrested 36-year-old Matthew James Amiot and charged him with first degree arson in connection with last Monday’s fire at Adas Israel Synagogue.
The blaze completely destroyed the Orthodox Jewish house of worship that served its congregation for 119 years.
Flames swiftly burned their way through the wood-frame building located in the Central Hillside neighborhood, burning it right down to the stone basement.
Miraculously, the firefighters were able to save most of the congregation’s 14 Torah Scrolls and a number of other sacred articles and precious items. Ten of the Torah scrolls were recovered from the debris altogether; eight are reportedly intact.
Sadly, according to local CBS affiliate WCCO-Channel 4 TV News, several others are stuck in the blackened walls, too damaged to be saved.
The fire started in the synagogue’s storage room, according to multiple reports. One firefighter was injured while battling the blaze.
Adas Israel, a small congregation of just 75 members, is one of only two synagogues in Duluth, according to the St. Paul Jewish Federation, CNN reported on Saturday.
Amiot is scheduled to appear at the St. Louis County court in Duluth this coming Monday.