For the second time in just over a year, Bellevue firefighters were called to battle a blaze at the Islamic Center of Eastside in Bellevue.
Crews responded to the fire in the 14700 block of Main Street just before 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Investigators with Bellevue police, the Bellevue Fire Department, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, the Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as well as the FBI are working collaboratively to determine the cause and origin of the fire, according to Bellevue police.
The building has been vacant since Jan. 14, 2017, when it was first set on fire. Isaac Wayne Wilson, 37, pled guilty to reckless burning in connection with that fire after being initially charged with second-degree arson. He was sentenced to 14 months in prison, 12 months of which were to be served in community custody. Wilson was also previously convicted of fourth-degree assault and disorderly conduct in 2016 following an altercation with a member of the center.
Wilson was released last week, according to Farida Hakim, a member of the Islamic Center of Eastside.
Hakim said the center’s board members were at the scene on Wednesday evening trying to determine the facts with authorities.
One of those facts is that the building’s utilities were shut off, Hakim said.
“It couldn’t spontaneously catch fire by itself,” Hakim told the Reporter, relaying information she had learned from the center’s board members.
The Reporter could not reach fire officials for immediate comment.
Hakim noted that her mosque community has been in the rebuilding phase since the arson in 2017. They are working with the city of Bellevue to get a permit to tear down the building and construct a new building in a different location, she said.
She said the community has also been helping to rebuild the life of the man who first set fire to the mosque in 2017.
Even prior to the January 2017 fire, members of the Eastside Islamic community had tried to help Wilson pay for medications he couldn’t afford, as he was homeless. Hakim said when Wilson was released from prison last week, she had hoped people in her mosque community would reach out again to provide services to him to make sure he had the support he needed. When the center found someone to do so, she said, she felt relieved.
“Then my heart was at rest [once] I knew this person will do this outreach now,” Hakim said.
Now in the aftermath of another fire, she said she feels very vulnerable.
“We have to be in touch with our neighbors and take care of each other,” she said.
Bellevue police are asking for the public’s assistance in this investigation. Anyone with a video of the fire scene is requested to send that information to the Bellevue Police Department at PDTipline@bellevuewa.gov.
Anyone with information about the cause of this fire is encouraged to contact CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or make an online tip by going to www.crimestoppers.com. Callers can remain anonymous and are eligible to receive a cash reward of up to $1,000 if the information given leads to an arrest and charges or grand jury indictment of a felony offender.