By KIM ESTES
Four Points News
The investigation continues into a January fire that destroyed an Islamic center that was under construction in Hudson Bend, said Travis County Fire Marshal Tony Callaway.
“It is still an open and ongoing case. If we had been able to rule out arson, we wouldn’t have gone this far. But, that doesn’t mean it is arson,” said Callaway.
Firefighters were called early in the morning on Jan. 7 to the 4700 block of Doss Road where the future Islamic Center of Lake Travis was in flames. It was to be a two-story, 2,700-square-foot structure.
As required by Federal law, the fire was reported to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “Any fire to a faith-based group, regardless of the religion, has to be reported to ATF,” Callaway said.
Now, in fact, electronic data gathered in the investigation is in the hands of a government agency under the oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“We have sent quite a bit of electronic data. They will analyze it deeper and make sure we’re not missing something and the investigation has been as thorough as possible,” said Callaway.
Investigators have learned there are no links between the ICLT fire and other mosque fires in the nation, including a Jan. 28 blaze that gutted an Islamic center in Victoria and was ruled an arson. A suspect is in custody, according to various news reports.
“That’s another reason for using this (government) group – to look at all the (national) information together. There doesn’t appear to be any relation to any other mosque fires in the nation or to the one in Victoria,” he said.
Callaway doesn’t know when the FBI’s analytical group, which works a variety of cases in a triage fashion, will complete its investigation.
Regardless, he is confident the neighborhood around the ICLT property is in no immediate danger.
“We haven’t come across anything that concerns us regarding the safety of the community,” said Callaway.
Investigators continue to take information about the ICLT blaze from individuals. Tips may be reported locally by calling 512-854-4621, or to another 24-hour tip line at 877-434-7345. A reward for credible information is available.