Suspicious fire at mosque just year after arson

Flames engulfed the Islamic Center of the Eastside on Wednesday, just more than a year after it was targeted in an arson.

Thursday, officials called the fire Wednesday suspicious.

Anyone with information about the cause of Wednesday's fire is encouraged to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or to make an online tip by going to www.crimestoppers.com.

For people who attend the Islamic Center, the fear is that this was another hate crime.

Chopper 7 flew over the charred mosque around 4:45 p.m. Wednesday. Police officers are assisting the fire department in the investigation.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Omer Lone is a board member for the Islamic Center of the Eastside. He said he had a tough time processing that there was another fire at the Mosque site, “while I was at work, I just got the text ‘hey the mosque is on fire once again.’ I could not even believe it.”

Lone said the latest fire sent worry through the entire Muslim community that attends the mosque, “there is the fear and the tension, what if this was a functional mosque, and we were inside? ...What if it's a hate crime?”

>> PHOTOS: Bellevue mosque catches fire nearly year after arson

Isaac Wayne Wilson -- a homeless man -- was convicted of the 2017 arson. Other crimes prompted heightened security at the mosque including a rock thrown through the mosque's window in late 2016. Lt Brian Gomez of the Bellevue Fire Department said Wednesday’s fire remains under investigation.

“Right now (there is) no cause … The property was boarded up. The premises were secured and there was no work being done,” Gomez said. He added that fire crews had to break through fencing and boards to deal with the fire at the Mosque building. He said there was nobody inside at the time, “... completely vacant, however there are some kinds of vagrants or kids frequenting the property.”

Masood Hassan is a member of the Eastside Islamic Center and says he lives just a few blocks from the Mosque. He came to watch the fire on Wednesday and shared some video of the flames with KIRO 7. When he spoke to us, he was constantly looking back at the Mosque building checking its condition.

“My heart was racing. I was just praying to God the whole time,” Hassan said.

He said the damage also strikes at the heart of the Muslim community. Many members of the Eastside Islamic Center watched and wondered if this fire would be a major setback. Omer Lone said leaders were trying to start rebuilding - they've been renting space in Bellevue for prayers recently.

Lone now wonders if any step can truly keep them safe. “Once you can take, it but twice it completely breaks you apart you know,” he said.

The fire Wednesday afternoon caused heavy damage, but no one was hurt and it did not spread to any other buildings, according to officials on scene.

In January 2017, an arson fire badly damaged the center.

Isaac Wayne Wilson, 37, reportedly had an extensive history of mental illness. He was sentenced to 14 months in prison.

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