Ypsilanti — Authorities are calling in federal law enforcement officials to lead an investigation into a fire at an Ypsilanti mosque.
Pittsfield Township Fire Chief Sean Gleason says there is no indication this early on in the investigation that the cause of the fire at the Islamic Center of Ypsilanti is suspicious. But because of its designation as a mosque, officials contacted the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations today asked local, state and federal fire investigators and law enforcement authorities to probe the fire as a possible act of arson.
“”We urge state and federal agencies to use their full resources to investigate this fire to determine a cause and, if it is determined to be arson, a possible motive,” CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid said in a statement. “Anyone who has information about this fire, or saw anything suspicious at the time of the blaze, should immediately contact law enforcement authorities.”
The fire department was called to the mosque shortly before 4 p.m. Saturday. When firefighters arrived, they found the middle section of the building in flames. Firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the fire. Nobody was inside the building at the time.
An agent from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigates a fire at a mosque in Pittsfield Township, Sunday, March 12, 2017. (Photo: Courtesy of Ronnie Dahl / ATF)
A dozen ATF agents were on the scene Sunday, with some focused on determining the cause of the fire and others canvassing the neighborhood for witnesses, said spokeswoman Ronnie Dahl.
She said anyone with information is asked to contact the ATF tipline 1-888-ATF-TIPS or report the information through the Report-It App (a free download).