Texas Mosque Destroyed in Fire

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VICTORIA — Early Saturday, a fire destroyed a Texas mosque, which had been a target of hatred and theft in the past.

A clerk at a convenience store noticed smoke and flames rising from the Islamic Center of Victoria at about 2 a.m., according to the Victoria Advocate. The man called the fire department instantly.

"It's sad to stand there and watch it collapse down, and the fire was so huge," Shahid Hashmi, the Islamic center's president, said. "It looks completely destroyed."

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Hashmi said officials told him it was too early for answers.

"We don't have any lead or information as to what started the fire and what happened,” he said. “So I'm sure it's going to be a few days, they told us, before they can come up with any answers for us."

According to Hashmi, the imam of the mosque, was awake in the early morning and even checked online surveillance, but found no alarm active and the doors wide open.

"He was worried about it and drove over there," Hashmi said. "By that time, fire engines were already there pouring water on the fire."

It took four hours to extinguish the fire. There were no injuries reported.

Just a week before, on Jan. 21, someone broke in to the mosque and stole electronics.

In July 2013, a man admitted that he painted "H8” (hate) on the outside of the mosque.

"Because of growing anti-Muslim bigotry in our nation, and because of the recent spike in hate incidents targeting Islamic institutions and individuals, we urge investigators to keep the possibility of a bias motive for this fire in mind," CAIR-Houston Executive Director Mustafaa Carroll said.