A Tuesday night fire that badly damaged the University of Delaware’s Chabad Center is believed to have been intentionally set, fire investigators said Wednesday afternoon.
Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder Company, along with a handful of other fire departments, was called to the Jewish center on South College Avenue just before 11:15 p.m. Tuesday after receiving a 911 call about the blaze.
Responding fire personnel found flames shooting from the structure, the state fire marshal’s office said. Firefighters began an “aggressive” interior attack, while others searched the center to ensure no one was inside.
Officials said firefighters faced “a number of complicating factors,” including an unusual building layout due to the number of rooms, as well as construction hazards “ranging from fire extension in the knee walls to plaster-and-lath walls.”
Fire crews were on scene for about three hours extinguishing small pockets of fire once the initial blaze was extinguished. The state fire marshal’s office began investigating shortly thereafter.
As of Wednesday afternoon, investigators had not said where in the building the fire began, but did say they believe it was arson. The blaze caused about $75,000 worth of damage to Chabad.
Assistant State Fire Marshal Michael Chionchio said investigators have found “no indication of a hate crime,” but said the investigation is still in its early stages and the fire marshal’s office is “exploring all avenues.”
“The investigation is very open-ended right now,” Chionchio said.
Chabad officials could not immediately be reached for comment about the fire.
The Jewish center is not the only religious building to have recently been the target of arson.