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Furnace fire closes community centre

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An early morning fire on Jan. 7 burned through the interior of the Jewish Russian Community Centre near Bathurst Street and Steeles Avenue West in Toronto's north end, but did not cause structural damage. (JRCC Rockford photo)

Toronto police have ruled out suspicious motives as the cause of a fire that damaged a Jewish Russian Community Centre (JRCC) of Ontario building in the city’s north end.

An investigation concluded that the blaze broke out in the furnace room of the Rockford Road location, near Bathurst Street and Steeles Avenue West, early in the morning of Jan. 7.

Rabbi Shmuel Neft, director of JRCC Rockford, said that the fire destroyed the interior of the building, but did not cause structural damage. He said the building would be unusable for at least half a year. However, the fire will not affect JRCC Rockford’s programming, as it has secured a space in the JRCC’s main office on Bathurst Street, about 250 metres away.

“We’re only going to increase what we do. All of our careers, classes, social programs, etc., for all ages, all groups, are continuing as they have been until today,” he said. “We see this as an opportunity to build bigger and better.”

The JRCC is encouraging those who want to contribute to the rebuilding and operation costs of JRCC Rockford, which include repairing the interior, purchasing new furniture, cleaning holy items and renting a space, to donate online at jrcc.org/rebuildrockford.

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