The fire that damaged a Jewish student center at the University of Delaware late Tuesday night was intentionally set, investigators said.
"A criminal arson investigation is underway, with investigators following up on leads," said Michael G. Chionchio, assistant state fire marshal.
Anyone with information regarding this fire is asked to call the fire marshal at 302-323-5375 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333.
The blaze broke out just after 11 p.m. at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life, located at 262 S. College Ave.
Firefighters arrived to find heavy fire coming from the rear of the first floor, according to Deputy Chief A.J. Schall, of Aetna Hose, Hook and Ladder Company.
It took 45 firefighters from Aetna and several neighboring fire companies approximately 40 minutes to bring the fire under control, Schall said.
Firefighters were faced with a number of complicating factors, including an unusual building layout and construction hazards, officials said. Crews remained on scene for three hours extinguishing hot spots and completing overhaul.
The building was not occupied at the time of the fire, and no one was injured.
Schall described the damage to the building as “significant.” Chionchio estimated the damage at $75,000.
The Chabad Center describes itself as a “home-away-from-home at college” for Jewish UD students. It offers Shabbat meals, weekly classes, discussions and various social events. It has a full-time rabbi, and during the school year, it is open 24/7.
The property is owned by the Wilmington-based organization Chabad of Delaware, not UD.