Tampa Mosque Fire Ruled Arson

A small fire that damaged a mosque in suburban Tampa, Florida, has been ruled arson, Hillsborough County fire investigators said Friday.

Site of arson in doorway of Darrus Salaam Mosque in Thonotosassa near New Tampa, Florida. Leaders to discuss fire and investigation at 10 a.m.

Fire investigators said all evidence points to the fire being intentionally set.

No one was there when the fire started.

Authorities have not decided if the fire was a hate crime, but Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said at a news conference: "This is no different than the wave of anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish community centers and synagogue and bomb threats that have been called in all across the country, including in Tampa over the recent months".

A board member for the mosque learned of the fire when a security alarm company called to report that the sprinkler system had been activated, according to news release from the Council on American-Islamic Relations Florida, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy group known as CAIR. The state Fire Marshal and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are investigating. By Friday evening, an online fundraiser to help the mosque fix damages from the fire had already raised more than $12,000.

Firefighters arrived and quickly put out the fire at an entrance to the building, CNN affiliate WFTS reported. Afternoon prayers may be canceled due to the damage to the hall.

Worshippers were directed to other mosques in the area until the building is repaired. Joseph Schreiber was sentenced to 30 years in prison earlier this month for setting fire to the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce on September 11. He said they're awaiting the outcome of the investigation to better understand the motive, but have been boosted by community support. We stand in solidarity with our Muslim community.

  • Larry Hoffman