Authorities now claim that a fire that damaged a Southern California mosque on Friday afternoon was an act of arson.
The Islamic Center of Palm Springs in Coachella, California was reported as being on fire shortly after noon on Friday, according to statements from the Riverside County Fire Department. This fire, however, was restricted to the mosque’s lobby and was quickly put out, with no reports of injuries. But as authorities draw closer to a conclusion, the Sheriff’s Department announced Friday night that the fire was an “intentional act” and that it would investigate the incident further. California fire investigators and the government’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and FBI are now involved in the investigation.
Witnesses at the scene related hearing a “loud boom” and seeing flames shortly thereafter. Acting imam Reymundo Nour, who was not present at the time of the blaze, said that the mosque was “firebombed.” No suspects have been shortlisted by local authorities, nor have they come up with more specifics on how the fire was set.
The mosque is curiously located just 75 miles from San Bernardino, where a couple, supposedly influenced by Islamist extremists, killed 14 people last week. Several Southern California Muslims have expressed fear for their safety and for acts of revenge following the recent killings.