Arson Suspected in Fire at Florida Mosque Attended by Orlando Shooter Omar Mateen

iStock/Thinkstock(FORT PIERCE, Fla.) — Investigators suspect arson in a blaze that broke out overnight in the mosque attended by Omar Mateen, the shooter in the Orlando nightclub massacre that claimed the lives of 49 people and injured dozens more.

Emergency responders received a call at about 12:31 a.m. Monday reporting a fire at the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, Florida, the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office said. St. Lucie County Fire District crews responded and extinguished the fire.

Investigators said evidence points to an intentional fire, and the Sheriff's office is investigating the incident as arson, officials said at a morning press conference Monday.

Surveillance video shows an individual walking up to the east side of the building prior to a flash and a fire breaking out, Major David Thompson, of the Sheriff's Office, said.

The blaze broke out just hours after the passing of the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, on the three-month anniversary of the Jun. 12 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and also on the same day as the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

“Right now I don’t want to speculate on a motive," Maj. Thompson said. "We all know the implications of the date and the time of year, this is the 9/11 anniversary. Is that related? I would not want to speculate but it is in the back of our minds.”

“This is a horrible tragedy," Maj. Thompson added, "not only for the Islamic Center, but also for our community.”

Authorities said they would release the surveillance video as soon as possible.

This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.

 
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California anticipates much-needed rain this week after catastrophic wildfires

California anticipates much-needed rain this week after catastrophic wildfiresGoogle Earth(NEW YORK) -- Ravaged by a slew of deadly wildfires in recent days, northern California is set to get a bit of relief this week in the form of rain.

A storm system is expected to move over the Pacific Northwest later this week and the trailing cold front will most likely bring some much-needed rain to northern California between Thursday and Friday, according to ABC meteorologists.

"It will rain a bit but not enough to fully douse the blazes," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark said in a statement Tuesday. "The biggest advantage to firefighters will be the increase in humidity and lower temperatures."

Massive wildfires have charred more than 245,000 acres of land statewide in the past week, killing at least 41 people and destroying thousands of homes, according to authorities.

Firefighters were battling about a dozen wildfires as of late Tuesday evening, although most of them were more than halfway contained.

“The weather today will be warm with low humidity, which will continue to challenge firefighters, but only light winds are forecast,” CalFire said in a statement on Tuesday. “A chance of precipitation is expected to arrive later in the week, bringing relief from the dry conditions.”

The northern parts of the Golden State, which has bared the brunt of the fire damage, is forecast to see an influx of cloudy, cooler and wetter weather later in the week, according to AccuWeather.

Spotter from Los Osos was reporting sprinkles from this high level moisture. Dry at lower levels. Rain evaporates. Also called "Virga" #cawx pic.twitter.com/sgxj3bdXZQ

— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) October 18, 2017

However, a return of dry air, heat and areas of gusty winds could once again raise the wildfire danger early next week, meteorologists said.

Separately, a band of moisture, referred to as Atmospheric River by weather experts, is currently stretching between Asia and North America. It’s expected to bring several storm systems into many parts of the Pacific Northwest through the rest of the week.

The first of these storms have already hit the Pacific Northwest with wind gusts of between 40 and 74 mph.

A number of wind warnings and flood watches are in effect in the western and northern parts of the U.S. ahead of the storm.

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