Islamic Education Center of Tampa catches fire twice in less than 2 weeks

ATF investigating fire at shia mosque
Posted at 10:19 PM, Jul 27, 2016

It has been a difficult week for members of the Islamic Center of Tampa in Town N Country. It has caught fire twice in the past 10 days.

Hillsborough County investigators deemed the first fire at the center on July 18 as accidental. But, having another fire so soon has board members concerned.  

“Of course we are worried,” Jabbar Al-Mashahdani said.  “Suddenly, today we hear there is another fire inside the building…it’s a place for education,” Mashahdani said.

In 2007, Mashahdani said an arsonist doused their prayer hall with gasoline.  

“It was a hate crime, they were never caught,” Mashahdani said.  

He hopes the recent fire was just an accident. But, a caretaker who lives on the property described hearing popping noises.

“I heard pop, pop, pop,” Victor Perez said. “I grabbed the hosed and tried to put it out then the fire department showed up.”

Perez said because of the fire 10 days ago the electricity had been cut to the building. He said there was no weather in the area when the fire started and he had just finished mowing the grass and didn't notice anything suspicious.

Investigators with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were also at the scene collecting evidence. No information was provided about how this latest fire started.