Breckenridge Texan

Early morning fire destroys 90-year-old former synagogue

Early morning fire destroys 90-year-old former synagogue
November 24
20:00 2019

An early morning fire on North Parks Street destroyed Breckenridge’s 90-year-old former Jewish synagogue on Sunday, Nov. 24.

Breckenridge firefighters battled a fire early Sunday, Nov. 24, in the 300 block of North Parks Street. The building that had built as a Jewish synagogue in 1929, was completely destroyed. (Photo courtesy of Calvin Chaney/BFD)

The Breckenridge Fire Department responded to the structure fire at 5:20 a.m. Sunday. The building located at 302 N. Parks St. was built in 1929 as Temple Beth Israel, according to the local history book “Stephens County: Much to be Cherished.” The building was currently being used as a storage/work area.

According to information from BFD Fire Chief Calvin Chaney, the fire was heavy on the east end of the building and already through the roof at the midpoint of the structure.

“BFD immediately went to heavy streams including two deck guns and one ladder aerial waterway,” he posted on the fire department’s Facebook page. “Heavy fire was knocked down in about an hour, and then equipment had to be brought to (the) scene because (the) brick walls were very unstable and had to be torn down for safety reasons.”

A house that was less than four feet away on the east side was saved from damage except for one window that was broken. BFD firefighters remained on scene until almost 11 a.m., quenching all the hot spots, Chaney reported.

According to the local history book, people once traveled from Eastland, Cisco, Ranger, Graham and Abilene for High Holiday services. Rabbis came from Fort Worth, San Antonio, Waco and other larger cities to conduct the services. During normal Friday night services, various members took turns conducting services.

By 1974, the number of congregants had dwindled and the building was sold. The money from the sale was distributed to several charitable organizations, according to “Stephens County: Much to be Cherished.” The building was later used as a Christian church.

The BFD was assisted at the fire by Breckenridge Police Department officers, who got the occupants awake and out of the house that was in immediate danger. Sacred Cross Ambulance service was on the scene to monitor the firefighters.

Due to severe damage to building and with the structure unstable, no official cause of the fire can be determined, Chaney reported.

The former synagogue that had been at 302 N. Parks for 90 years was reduced to rubble by an early morning fire on Sunday, Nov. 24. The Breckenridge Fire Department put out the blaze and prevented it from spreading to a nearby house. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Cutline, top photo: Flames completely engulf the former Temple Beth Israel at 302 N. Parks St. on Sunday, Nov. 24. Eventually, the walls were torn down because the structure was unstable. (Photo courtesy of Calvin Chaney/BFD)

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