A suspicious fire has destroyed the primary mosque in Geelong, and now police are investigating the cause of the blaze.
Authorities revealed that when the fire crews arrived at the scene, the fire already took hold of the entire building on Bostock Avenue in Maniford Heights.
“The fire started at approximately 2:10 this morning,” the Country Fire Authority’s Mark Sinkinson said, according to ABC News.
Sinkinson added that they did not let the crews enter the building because they were concerned with the structure caving in, what with the roof having already fallen.
Victorian Police believe that the attack might be targeting churches and not Islam. The building that burned down was a former Anglican church that housed the mosque.
“This is one of a series of fires against places of worship in the Geelong area. There’s been four since October last year,” Inspector Graham Banks from the Victorian Police said. “It is clearly not what people might envisage a mosque might look like.”
More than a few witnesses testified to hearing a loud bang before they saw the fire. People from neighboring homes were evacuated as a safety measure.
Imam Mohammad Ramzam, together with his wife and three children, was sleeping in an adjacent home. They were able to break away from the blaze unscathed.
“We’ve never had any trouble, any issue, any problem, any tension even. Rather, we’ve received very complementing and love-based compliments from the people,” he said.
The mosque was a home to the Islamic Society of Geelong. The society represented thousands of Muslim families in the country.
The fire incident at the mosque isn’t the first for this month, as a similar incident took place a few days earlier, according to News.com.au.
A fire at the Greek Orthodox Church in East Melbourne, which is the oldest church in the state of Victoria, forced the evacuation of 200 people staying in nearby buildings.
It also incurred an estimated half million dollars’ worth of damage.