Workers using a torch to remove paint from the exterior of a Hempstead synagogue on Wednesday accidentally ignited a fire that caused "extensive damage" to the building, the congregation's rabbi said.
"No injuries, thank God," Rabbi Michael Eisenstein said Thursday, a day after the fire at Congregation Beth Israel at 141 Hilton Ave.
Eisenstein said the major damage was to the front part of the building, a residential area, and the rest of the building -- a sanctuary addition in the rear -- sustained smoke damage.
The fire was discovered at about 4:30 p.m., when a member of a mah-jongg club headed into Eisenstein's office after smelling smoke.
"She opened the door to my office, and it was in flames," said Eisenstein, who was away from the synagogue at the time.
Several fire departments responded, including West Hempstead, and the fire was extinguished before 7 p.m., Eisenstein said.
He said services are planned for Saturday and a wedding is expected to go on as planned on Nov. 29, the Friday after Thanksgiving.