OstanWire — Ali Malmir, Director-General of Hamadan's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Department, has announced that the fire on May 14 at the tomb of Esther and Mordechai in Hamadan only affected the annex building.
"The fire broke out in the annex building of the tomb and did not cause any damage to the main National Heritage listed building," Malmir told Fars News Agency. His comments are the first from an Iranian official about the incident.
News surfaced over Friday and Saturday that a fire at the tomb, which is one of the holiest Jewish sacred sites in Iran and the world, was being investigated by police. Authorities said no cause had yet been given although the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported that an individual had been recorded by surveillance cameras breaking into the tomb. The Jerusalem Post also reported that the attack followed threats against the tomb posted to Twitter.
The United States Government's Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semitism, the Anti-Defamation League and Iranian-American Jewish groups all condemned the attack as an attempt to stoke anti-Semitism in Iran.
A number of observers also shared initial reports that the worst had been avoided at the tomb.
Speaking to Fars News, Malmir added that "the fire was very limited and only damaged the wiring and the carpet on the floor of the annex building of the tomb of Esther and Mordechai, the cause of which is under investigation."
Malmir said that "no damage was caused to the main area of the tomb of Esther and Mordechai due to the fire, and this historic building has not been damaged. ... The cause of the accident is under investigation and will be announced as soon as it is determined."