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Monday, July 7, 2014

Fire investigators searching for more information about Halloween mosque fire

By Stan Finger
The Wichita Eagle

In their efforts to nail down the cause of the fire that heavily damaged a west Wichita mosque early on Halloween morning, investigators would like to hear from anyone who was in the vicinity of the mosque shortly before and just after the blaze was reported.

Wichita Fire Capt. Stuart Bevis said the FBI, the ATF and local fire investigators have talked to “a ton of people” in the days following the fire, but investigators still don’t know how the fire started — or whether it was an arson.

“We…are interested in hearing from anyone that might seen the fire early on and have not yet been contacted,” Bevis said.

In particular, he said, they’d like to hear from anyone who was in the area of Taft and Knight between midnight and 1 a.m. on October 31. The fire at the Islamic Association of Mid Kansas at 3406 W. Taft was reported at about 12:45 a.m., and caused an estimated $130,000 in damage to the mosque.

The damage was so extensive that fire investigators have been hampered in their attempts to determine the cause.

“We are waiting, in part, on analysis of different types of evidence from the ATF national laboratories,” Bevis said.

Anyone who hasn’t talked to investigators — or has information they have not yet shared — should call the fire investigation unit at 316-337-9146 or Crime Stoppers at 316-267-2111.

Contact Stan Finger at 316-268-6437.

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