Orlando Bahai Center goes up in flames

Arson investigators were looking Tuesday into two fires in three days that destroyed the Orlando Bahá’í Center in Orlando.

The first fire in the one-story wood building on Hillcrest Street was
reported at 4:48 a.m. Sunday. When the Orlando Fire Department
responded to the second blaze at 12:55 a.m. Tuesday, flames were
shooting through the roof.

“It is unusual for something like that to happen, especially this
much down time between the two,” said Orlando Fire Department Commander
Vicki Robles.

A spokesperson for the Bahá’í Center said the fires are baffling
to the members, who number about 300 in the metropolitan Orlando area.
Prior to the fires, there had been no threats, vandalism, or break-ins
at the center, said Kelsey Vargas, secretary for the center’s governing
assembly.

“We don’t have any reason to suspect that anyone would wish us harm,” Vargas said.

The center was created in 1974, Vargas said. Until the Orlando
center can be replaced, members plan to meet in each other’s homes,
Vargas said.

“For generations people have used it as a place for devotions and
children’s classes and for moral and spiritual development,” she said.
“People are very saddened that this has happened.”

About four years ago, the center received a thick package of hate
mail decorated with swastikas and containing a &… >>>

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