Saturday afternoon, a fire broke out at the Islamic Center of Ypsilanti in Pittsfield Township as reported by Click-On Detroit.
The fire department was called to the Center, which doubles as a mosque, at around 5 p.m. Mlive reported the fire was quickly put out and no one was harmed, as the building was empty when the fire started. However, the building seems to be irreparably damaged.
Onlooker Stephen Neckel, an Ypsilanti resident, told Click-On Detroit the sight was frightening.
“It just got intense very quickly,” Neckel said. “It rose in a matter of seconds (and) it went up.”
According to the Detroit News, there has been no indication that the fire was a case of arson. However, the site’s designation as a mosque warranted officials to call the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, issued a statement asking officials to further investigate the case.
“We urge state and federal agencies to use their full resources to investigate this fire to determine a cause and, if it is determined to be arson, a possible motive,” Walid said. “Anyone who has information about this fire, or saw anything suspicious at the time of the blaze, should immediately contact law enforcement authorities.”
In the case the fire is found to be arson, the organization is offering a $1,000 award for any information given to authorities that could lead to the arrest of a perpetrator.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D–Mich.) also issued a statement about the event, which occurred within her district. She said she spoke to law enforcement and both state and federal authorities, and supports a further investigation into the fire.
“I, like many, was deeply concerned to learn about the fire at the Islamic Center in Pittsfield Township yesterday evening,” Dingell wrote in her statement. “At a time when we are seeing an increase in threats against members of our communities based on race and religion — whether at a Mosque or a Jewish Community Center — there is obvious reason for concern, and there are many questions as to what happened and why … If it is found to be arson, the perpetrators must be held accountable. As a community, we must stand united against hate and division in our society.”