Fire officials: Tampa mosque fire was arson

An intentionally set fire damaged a prayer hall at a Tampa-area mosque early Friday, investigators said.The arson occurred at the Islamic Society of New Tampa, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue said in a news release.Fire investigators responded at around 2...

Fire officials: Tampa mosque fire was arson

An intentionally set fire damaged a prayer hall at a Tampa-area mosque early Friday, investigators said.

The arson occurred at the Islamic Society of New Tampa, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue said in a news release.

Fire investigators responded at around 2 a.m. After gathering evidence, they determined the fire was intentionally set. No one was at the mosque when the fire started.

"It is worrisome that our community has fallen victim of what appears to be another hate crime," said Wilfredo Amr Ruiz, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Florida.

An alarm company notified a mosque board member early Friday, and he found first responders there when he arrived, CAIR said.

Investigators from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives also responded, the group said. The ATF didn't immediately return a call from The Associated Press.

CAIR said the fire started at a door to the prayer hall. There was damage to the door and carpet inside from sprinkler water and smoke.

Authorities said there were holes found in the door, but determined they were not made by bullets, as some had initially feared.

Morning prayers were moved to another building. Afternoon prayers may be cancelled due to the damage to the hall, local news media reported.

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