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Suspicious blaze destroys a mosque in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD -- Arson investigators were on the scene of a fast-moving fire that destroyed a city mosque yesterday.

Authorities had not been able to determine whether the fire that destroyed the Al-Baqi Islamic Center was suspicious because the remains of the building were not safe to enter, said Lieutenant Neil Hawley of the Springfield Fire Department.

A passerby reported fire coming from the second floor of the mosque on Union Street at about 5 p.m., Hawley said. When firefighters arrived a few minutes later, fire was visible on the second and third floors.

''Fifteen minutes after that, it was through the roof," Hawley said, explaining that a stiff wind made it impossible to fight the flames from inside the three-story brick building.

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