- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 15, 2015

Houston fire officials say an accelerant was used in a fire that broke out at an Islamic center early Friday, prompting the Council on American-Islamic Relations for call on state and federal authorities to investigate a possible hate crime.

The Houston Fire Department says the fire at the Quba Islamic Institute started around 5 a.m. Officials determined an accelerant was used, and the FBI now is monitoring the situation, an ABC affiliate reported.

Flames ate away at a building on the back of the property, which members said was used only for storage, the station reported.

No one was in the building at the time and no one was injured.

“The damage on the back building is total,” said Houston Fire Department district Chief Ken Tyner. “The whole entire building back there is burned up.”

The institute’s assistant imam said they also found a vandalized, smashed table on their property Friday morning and said someone drove by mocking them the night before, the ABC affiliate reported.

Earlier last week, he said a masked man was lurking around the property and had to be chased away.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is calling on state and federal authorities to investigate the fire as a possible hate crime, the station reported.

“The first thing we think about is hate crimes that could go on,” said Hala Saadeh, who uses the community center. “It says right on the front — Islamic Institute. We’re not hiding ourselves.”

Officials with the Islamic center estimate the damages to be around $100,000, the station reported.

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