Flames engulfed the Islamic Center of Victoria, destroying the building in the predawn hours Saturday as congregation members watched from the curb, overcome with emotion.
“It’s a house of worship,” Shahid Hashmi, president of the center, said as he watched the flames from across the street.
Firefighters and several engines were dispatched to the burning building, 201 E. Airline Road, after 2 a.m. Fire crews and police officers arrived to find the mosque completely consumed in flames, said Battalion Chief Jeff Cowan, Victoria Fire Department.
Cowan said firefighters did not discover anyone inside the burning building.
Because of the fire’s intensity, firefighters practiced defensive tactics, spraying water from extended ladders to control the flames.
Paul Hulbert, a clerk at a nearby 7-Eleven convenience store and gas station, said he called the fire department just before 2 a.m. after he saw smoke and flames while taking out the trash. He said…
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