Investigators Rule Out Arson in JCC of Greater New Haven Fire

The Woodbridge Fire Marshal’s office announced Wednesday it has ruled out arson in the investigation into the fire at the Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven.

“Well, I’m certainly glad for our community members to know what really believed all along that this was an accidental cause,” JCC CEO Judy Diamondstein said.

The JCC’s building off Amity Road in Woodbridge is still closed to the public nine days after the fire ripped through the lower level, but the JCC has successfully relocated programs to other facilities.

Congregation B’Nai Jacob synagouge in Woodbridge has become the temporary home for the JCC pre-school and after school child care.

“The fire happened on Monday," Diamondstein said. "By 4:30 on Thursday afternoon, we had received our approvals. We had an open house for families and the kids were back 7:30 a.m. on Friday.”

In an announcement on Facebook, the Woodbridge Volunteer Fire Department said, “While the investigation is ongoing, we believe the fire started in the sauna area located in the men's locker room.”

NBC Connecticut was the first local TV station to tour the damage. The flames were mostly contained to the locker room area, but smoke and water ruined many other facilities on the lower level like the basketball gymnasium, dance studios and fitness gym.

“This double gym that we just had the floors resurfaced two years ago has to totally be replaced,” Diamondstein said, adding there were several inches of water on the basketball courts after the fire.

Allan Greenberg is the JCC’s longtime physical education director.

“To give you an idea, we are using three pools in this transitional period,” he said.

The swim team is using the Albertus Magnus College pool and JCC members have access to the racquetball courts, Greenberg said. The Hopkins Day Prospects School and the Woodbridge Recreational Department are allowing JCC members to use their basketball courts.

“We are very appreciative at the center and thankful there were so many facilities that we contacted or reached out to us,” Greenberg said.

Diamondstein said she is “working around the clock” to secure leases for a temporary fitness facility and administrative officers.

The JCC has launched a fundraising campaign to help with the rebuilding efforts.

A full list of temporary facilities hosting JCC programming and activities can be found on the homepage.

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