HOUSTON – A fire burned a vacant building sitting on the Quba Islamic Institute property early Friday in southeast Houston.
It was reported at 5:39 a.m. on FM 1959, not far from Ellington Airport
Air 11 was overhead as firefighters worked to knock out the fire. Heavy smoke poured from the facility, and flames shot from the roof. It was declared under control by 6:15 a.m., and there were no injuries reported.
“Honestly I was shocked and I didn’t expect that. Of course concerned also,” said Zahid Abullah, the leader of the mosque.
The burned building had just been purchased and was going to be turned into a community center, as well as a place for children to study Islam.
“When I showed them the pictures, they started crying because you know they come here with their dad every single day. We pray five times a day,” said Hala Saadeh, a mosque member.
Luckily, firefighters kept the flames from spreading to the mosque where people gather to pray. Some were headed there around the time of the fire but were quickly turned away as firefighters blocked off FM 1959.
“We are supposed to pray five times a day and in the morning at 6:15,” said Yousuf Silah, a mosque member.
As more mosque members gathered, they wanted to know if the fire was deliberate or an arson.
“It says right on the sign Quba Islamic institute. We are not hiding ourselves,” said Saadeh.
“A lot of people think like that, but like I said we don’t know yet. Nobody knows actually. So once they clear here, we will find out,” said a mosque member.
One thing they did know, despite the setback, the services would go on.
“We are a strong community, we’ll just figure out what to. Build again,” said Silah.
Arson investigators and the ATF were at the scene. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
According to its website, Quba serves as a school for youth and helps train community leaders.
—Courtesy of KHOU