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Possible arson fire damages California mosque

COACHELLA, Calif. -- A Southern California mosque was damaged by fire Friday, and its leader said people there at the time believe it was intentionally set.

CBS affiliate KPSP reported smoke and flames were seen coming from the Islamic Society of Palm Springs at about 12:10 p.m.

Cal Fire responded and was able to extinguish the fire in about 35 minutes and no injuries were reported. According to the Riverside County Fire Department, the flames were contained to the building's front lobby.

"The Riverside County Sheriff's Department believes this is an intentional act and we are using all available resources to follow up on any leads that are brought to our attention," Deputy Armando Munoz said in a statement late Friday, adding that investigators were asking the public to come forward with information.

Reymundo Nour, the mosque's acting imam, said people there described hearing a "loud boom" and seeing flames. He said the mosque had been "fire-bombed."

A group of Muslims gathered in front of the mosque in prayer shortly after the fire was contained.

Muslims pray in front of the Islamic Society of Palm Springs after a fire on Friday, December 11, 2015 in Coachella, California. KPSP

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said the agency will assist local law enforcement in determining the cause, which was under investigation. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also plans to help.

The mosque is about 75 miles from San Bernardino, where last week a couple that federal officials say was inspired by Islamist extremists killed 14 people and wounded 22 others.

The Islamic Society of Palm Springs was targeted by a shooter on November 4, 2014, KPSP reported. The suspect was never caught but the mosque offered a $12,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

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