HOUSTON (KTRK) --A two-alarm fire caused major damage at a mosque in southwest Houston, but no one was injured in the Christmas Day blaze, officials said.
The fire started around 2:45pm Friday at the Islamic Society of Greater Houston in the 1100 block of Wilcrest Drive.
Restaurant owner Imran Momin said, "When I came out the smoke was pretty intense yeah."
It didn't take firefighters long to knock down the fire.
"When firefighters opened the rear doors, they discovered heavy fire and smoke. They began their attack cautiously at first," Deputy Chief Fernando Herrera with the Houston Fire Department said.
Answering the question what started it will take much longer.
"We don't have anything here high tech, cooking or kitchen, anything that can cause this kind of fire. The only thing is pointing to is it could be hate or something, you know," Saleen Memon said.
Arson police spent a past few hours going through the building.
Some who pray at the mosque fear a hate crime.
Caretaker Abd Hurman said, "I believe so. I can't say exactly but I believe it's not something that would come accidentally."
Another worshipper says he noticed some of the fans weren't working Friday and believes it could be an accident.
"I was putting up my shoes and I smelled smoky," he said.
Mustafaa Carroll, the local Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says they don't want to be premature but investigators are looking at multiple origins of the fire.
"It makes it a little better if it's an electrical fire but we're hoping it's not arson. It is one of the holiest days of the year for a lot of people. We revere prophet Jesus these things for us are paramount," Carroll said.
On Friday night, prayer was held at a neighboring ballroom.
"The owner of the property allowed us to use that space until we fix our place again," Adbul Hafiz says as he left prayer.
While their place of prayer is destroyed, they are asking others to join with them next door.
"I just want everybody to pray, everybody to just enjoy their day and everybody to get along. Muslim, Christian, Hindus," Momin said.
About 80 firefighters battled the Friday blaze. A nearby pharmacy also sustained smoke damage from the fire.