NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — FDNY crews battled a three-alarm blaze that raged at a synagogue on the Lower East Side for several hours late Sunday.

Heavy flames and smoke shot out of the windows of the Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Synagogue on North Norfolk Street.

Authorities say the fire broke out around 7:00 p.m. Images were quickly captured and posted to social media.

Videos posted to Instagram show firefighters working tirelessly to bring the blaze under control.

Broom and Norfolk street

A post shared by Stephanie V. (@steph021) on


A post shared by Shawn Lovejoy (@shawnlovejoy) on

Neighbors described what they saw.

“It was very unfortunate,” Richard Caplan told CBS2’s Erin Logan. “Very large fire, a lot of smoke. I was concerned about the neighborhood and concerned about a very old structure.”

City Councilwoman Margaret Chin says the vacant synagogue was the first New York City to serve Easter European Jews. Caplan says he rarely sees anyone around, but Saturday afternoon his wife noticed something strange.

“While we were on the phone yesterday she said she had witnessed somebody jumping over the fence,” he said. “They didn’t look around to case the joint, they just jumped over the fence, went up through the windows that’s on the side of the synagogue and that was it.”

No injuries have been reported at this time as the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Stick with CBSNewYork for more on this developing story.

More From CBS New York

Download Weather App
60 Minutes Hear It On Demand

Watch & Listen LIVE