A second fire in less than five weeks occurred at a mosque in Joplin, Missouri early Monday morning. The cause of the latest inferno is still unknown, but Monday’s flames were much more devastating than those that occurred July 4, in an incident that authorities later determined was an act of arson.
Video shot by local television news station KSNF on Monday captured massive flames engulfing the building.
Firefighters were called to the scene at the Islamic Center of Joplin around 3:30 a.m., according to KSNF.
The Jasper County Sheriff’s Office told TPM a news conference has been planned for Monday afternoon, and that ATF and the FBI will be involved in the investigation.
“The building was completely destroyed; along with the security cameras,” Jasper County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sharon Rhine said in an email. “We don’t know at this time if it was arson.”
The FBI was involved with the investigation of the July fire, which was also set at approximately 3:30 a.m. The fire was contained on the roof, and extinguished by the Jasper County Fire Department. On July 16, the FBI announced that surveillance video showed “an unidentified white male walking up to the building and throwing an ignited object onto the roof.” The bureau released a still image of the suspect from the video, and announced that the FBI and ATF were offering a combined reward of $15,000 for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the person or people responsible.
Update 12:18 p.m.: A FBI spokesperson confirmed to TPM that the bureau is assisting the investigation of the latest fire.
“We’re still waiting on a determination on what the cause of the fire was,” spokesperson Bridget Patton said.
Patton added that the mosque was vacant at the time of the fire.
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com