• Arlington PD trying to identify person seen near fire at Chabad Center, rabbi's house

    By: Julie Leonardi

    Updated:

    ARLINGTON, Mass. - Arlington Police are trying to identify a suspicious person seen walking away from a home shortly after a suspicious fire broke out at a rabbi's house in the community. 

    On Saturday night around 11 p.m., Arlington Police and Fire were called to a home on Lake Street to investigate a fire alarm. Responders were met by the homeowners and their three children, who were inside a car in the driveway. 

    "We smelled a lot of smoke," said Rabbi Avi Burkiet. "There was a ton of smoke inside in the basement going up to the first floor."

    The rabbi told police that he and his wife and children left the home after they heard the alarm and smelled smoke. They were not injured in the incident. 

    Firefighters found a small fire burning on the wood shingles of one side of the home. The fire was quickly extinguished and the damage was minor. 

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    "There were embers from the fire all the way going to the inside of the house," Rabbi Bukiet said.

    The fire was deemed suspicious. Police are investigating if the home was targeted, as it doubles as the Chabad Center for Jewish Life in Arlington, a well-known place in the community for religious services and education. 

    "I don't want to jump to any conclusions at this point," Rabbi Bukiet said. "Let's wait and see what happens and what is the source of this."

    Bukiet says his synagogue hasn't received any threats. Since the fire, Bukiet says, community leaders have offered their support to his family. 

    "An unsettling time for everyone, but there's so much love and so much support that goes around and at these moments you see people coming to the fore and coming to the surface and really showing how much of a community we are," he said.  

    Neighbors say the incident is devastating.  

    "This is a family living here who have children, it must be a horrible situation, horrible feeling for them to not feel safe in their own home," said one neighbor, who chose to remain anonymous. 

    That neighbor says her three young children all have attended Hebrew school at that Chabad Center.

    Rabbi Bukiet says he's actively working to improve security at the residence to make sure families who send their children there feel safe. 

    "We are taking this seriously," he said. "We are putting safety precautions in place, we are gathering a security committee to make sure to enhance the safety of our location and make sure that people come in and out without having any fear."  

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    Another of Bukiet's neighbors offered footage from his outdoor security camera as police were investigating the incident. That footage shows a person walking away from the area.

    Police are hoping someone will recognize the individual and help police identify them.

    "We have resolve, especially after the incident this week, to keep it going and we have a community backing us and the school," Rabbi Bukiet said. "We will flourish after such an event." 

    Anyone with information should call police at (781) 643-1212.

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