Another suspicious fire burns Bellevue mosque
The fire that damaged a mosque in Bellevue Wednesday is suspicious according to police. Officer Seth Tyler says they haven't determined a cause yet, but are continuing to search for leads.
Tyler: "Fires don't start themselves, this was a vacant building, no one should have been in it, and it was either accidentally set or intentionally set."
They ask anyone with tips or information to call crime stoppers, and will offer a $1,000 reward to people who share information that leads to an arrest.
No one was injured in the fire, but it severely damaged the Islamic Center of Eastside. The same building was intentionally set on fire a little more than a year ago, and one man was arrested then for arson. Tyler says detectives have questioned that man, but that he's not a person of interest.
The community uses a rental space for its prayers now.
Mohamed Bakr directs the Muslim Community Neighborhood Association in Bellevue. He took his two kids to the mosque Wednesday as soon as they heard about the fire. He says they wanted to see it in person.
Bakr: "We went together there, and they were really shocked to see the fire, they saw it live. And when we went there the level of support we found from the people there was really great, it helped them a lot."
Bakr says dozens of community members have called and emailed, and some have showed up to the scene to offer support. Bakr says the mosque community includes many tech workers and immigrants, and that the Islamic Center is not just the place they pray but also where they socialize and build friendships.
The Islamic Center of Eastside was the first permanent mosque established in the eastside of Seattle, since opening in 1993. Its members had been raising money and applying for building permits to repair the building since the previous fire. Bakr says the building will need to be demolished now. He says he believes there is a good reason for all that happens.
Officer Tyler says the Bellevue Police Department will meet with the community this weekend to give updates and also to provide safety tips.