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Suspect identified in blaze that destroyed historic Minnesota synagogue

Minnesota police have identified the suspect allegedly responsible for sparking a fire that destroyed a historic Minnesota synagogue on Monday.

Duluth resident Matthew John Amiot, 36, was arrested last week on a charge of arson for allegedly starting the fire at the Adas Israel Congregation in downtown Duluth, the city’s police chief Mike Tusken said in a press conference on Sunday.

Brooks Johnson/Star Tribune via AP
Firefighters work the scene of an overnight fire that engulfed and destroyed a synagogue in downtown Duluth, Minn., Sept. 9, 2019.

Firefighters spent more than 12 hours battling the flames after they broke out Monday around 2 a.m.

Despite the destruction, there is no evidence that the arson was the result of a bias or hate crime, Tusken said. The point of origin for the fire was outside the structure, and no accelerants appear to have been used, he added.

The synagogue was built more than 120 years ago, Mayor Emily Larson said in a press conference last week.

A spokesperson for the fire department described the structure as “pretty much a total loss,” The Associated Press reported. Eight of 14 Torah scrolls were saved.

The congregation is Orthodox/High Conservative Jewish and serves 75 members, according to AP.

Additional information was not immediately available.

ABC News’ Ben Stein contributed to this report.


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