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Man admits starting fire, now facing felony charge

The circumstances surrounding a fire that destroyed part of a Texas Islamic community center are in question following the arrest of a suspected arsonist. Charged with arson -- a felony charge -- the man claims that the out-of-control blaze was far from intentional. The man's confession helped ease worries some had who feared the fire was a hate crime.

The blaze broke out on Feb. 13, causing damage to a warehouse at the community center. At the time it was used for storing various supplies, such as books and furniture that were not in use, and all of these items were presumably destroyed, along with the warehouse. No one was injured, and the adjoining school and mosque were not damaged by the fire.

The initial investigation turned up evidence that led the authorities to believe that an accelerant was somehow involved in starting the fire. However, the man who turned himself in to police, and who was subsequently arrested, said that he was only trying to get warm. In the process, he says he accidentally started the fire, but that it was in no way intentionally set. Although the possibility of the fire being a hate crime was initially raised, it now seems unlikely that such a charge will follow based upon what the man arrested for the act recounted to authorities.

When devastating incidents result from otherwise simple accidents, knowing which actions are most appropriate can be understandably confusing. Though this Texas man may have little doubt that he did the right thing by turning himself in for the accidental blaze, he must now contend with the felony charge. Despite his past criminal record that has been brought to light, a guilty conviction will not necessarily follow based solely on his past actions. Instead, the prosecution must be able to prove that every aspect of the arson charge -- which means purposely lighting another's property on fire -- is both viable and true.

Source: breitbart.com, "Texas Islamic Center Fire Appears Not to be a Hate Crime", Lana Shadwick, Feb. 16, 2015

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