JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A fire ripped through a mosque in Jersey City early Friday morning just hours before hundreds were to gather for prayers.
Flames broke out at the Al-Tawheed Islamic Center on West Side Avenue just after 5:30 a.m.
The raging fire broke through the roof and white smoke could be seen billowing out of the building.
“There was so much smoke coming from each and every direction,” mosque member Bilal Arshad told CBS 2’s John Slattery.
The blaze went to three alarms before it was brought under control about an hour after it was reported.
“It sounds like the whole building is damaged, the roof, walls, I’m not sure if the structure is sound anymore, so it’s big work ahead of us,” mosque board member Ibrahim Eldewak said.
The mosque serves some 900 worshipers for Friday prayers. No one was inside the building at the time of the fire and no injuries have been reported.
“It’s just hard to comprehend, but people are safe which is most important. No one is hurt and that’s a blessing from Allah,” Eldewak said.
City officials arraigned afternoon prayers to be held at the city’s armory. Other mosques were expected to help in accommodating those whose house of prayer has now been destroyed.
Without knowing the exact cause, federal arson and explosion experts have been notified.
“We’ve also called in the ATF due to the fact that it’s a religious institution and due to the heavy volume of fire upon arrival,” Jersey City Fire Department Chief Darren Rivers said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
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