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Arson investigation underway following fire at Islamic Center of Tacoma

There were people inside the building when the fire started, but they managed to escape. Pierce County arson detectives have joined the investigation.

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. — The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department (PCSD) is investigating a possible arson following a fire Monday night at the Islamic Center of Tacoma.

West Pierce Fire and Rescue responded just after 8 p.m. to the center, located on the 2000 block of Bridgeport Way in University Place, and found fire coming from the roof and attic area of the building.

Crews said they were able to put the fire out quickly, but there was still fire, smoke and water damage to the interior and exterior of the building.

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"I felt it was my home. I felt that my house was burning – the first thing I asked was 'is everybody safe?'" said Mohammad Mousa, with the Islamic Center.

There were people inside the building when the fire started, but they managed to exit the building safely. Firefighters said a prayer service was about to begin when the fire occurred.

The investigation was handed over to the Pierce County Fire Marshal’s Office, which will be able to determine the extent of the damage as well as try to figure out what caused the fire.

Sadik Ail, a member of the Islamic Center, said their house of worship being closed won't stop them from practicing their faith. 

"Our religion, our faith and our sense of community, it doesn't stop at a building," said Ail. "Your connection is with the people around you and your faith. A building being here or there, or no building, or in the middle of anywhere. It's all about the sense of community, the sense of spirit and actually worshiping." 

A fundraiser has been established to help repair the Islamic Center.

The PCSD said Tuesday morning that arson detectives are joining the investigation. 

No further information was immediately available.

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