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Tampa Busch Boulevard mosque fire caused by arson, fire officials say

Crews fight the Aug. 5 fire at the Masjid Omar mosque. Fire officials found gasoline in samples taken inside and outside.
Crews fight the Aug. 5 fire at the Masjid Omar mosque. Fire officials found gasoline in samples taken inside and outside.
Published Aug. 21, 2016

TAMPA — A fire that caused $25,000 worth of damage to a Busch Boulevard mosque this month was arson, according to Tampa Fire Rescue.

Samples taken from the scene tested positive for gasoline, Fire Rescue spokesman Jason Penny said.

The Masjid Omar Mosque caught fire Aug. 5. The building's main room filled with smoke, and firefighters extinguished the blaze within 15 minutes.

No one was injured.

Initially, investigators said the fire could have been started by a small refrigerator's faulty electric cord in the main worship area.

Mosque officials told investigators they worried there may have been someone outside the building the night before the fire. The doors to the air-conditioning unit were found open, Penny said, but there was no obvious evidence someone had done anything to it.

Tests showed gasoline present outside and inside the mosque, Penny said.

Crime Stoppers Tampa Bay is offering a $3,000 reward to anyone with information that leads to an arrest.