Elham Asaad Buaras
A fire completely burned down an Islamic Centre in Austin, Texas. Islamic Centre of Lake Travis (ICLT) had been under construction and was just a few months away from completion when it was burned on January 7.
Fire and Rescue received a call at about 3:30 am about a fire. When firefighters arrived, the three-story building was fully engulfed in flames.
The Travis County fire Marshal is investigating the cause of the fire. No injuries were reported.
ICLT board member Shakeel Rashed said all that remains of the building is the concrete foundation.
“We are shocked, and it’s a bit of surprise because we were not expecting something like this, something that we worked so hard for, seeing that in a sad state is not easy,” said Rashed.
Rashed emphasised that the group didn’t want to speculate on the fire’s cause until the investigation is complete. Neither the electrical system nor gas connections had been installed yet, he said, but “it could possibly be anything,” even someone looking for shelter who might have started a fire for warmth on a night that was Austin’s coldest in six years.
As far as whether it could have been a religiously motivated crime, Rashed said: “We really, really hope and believe that it’s not that.”
ICLT had cameras installed inside and outside the building, which the fire Marshal will be reviewing, he added.
ICLT plans to rebuild so long as that is still what the community wants, Rashed said. About four years ago, members raised about $500,000 for the new centre, and more than $250,000 of that went toward the construction, he said. The group will need to again raise money to start anew on the building.
“First we want to know what happened here, and we will work with the Travis County department to figure out how to best secure this place for the future and everything else,” Rashed said, “but we do want our community to have a centre in this area.”