UK
27/09/2015 11:56 BST | Updated 27/09/2015 11:59 BST

Morden Mosque Fire: Two Teenagers Arrested On Suspicion Of Arson Over Baitul Futuh Blaze

Two teenagers have been arrested on suspicion of arson after a fire at a south London mosque, believed to be the largest in western Europe, on Saturday.

Two boys aged 14 and 16 remain in custody, police said on Sunday, after the blaze at the Baitul Futuh Mosque in Morden which started around midday and largely affected administration buildings.

The mosque sits on a 5.2acre site and can hold 10,500 people, however, when the fire took hold only a handful of worshippers were inside. They were quickly evacuated.

A man in his 40s was said to have been taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.

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Smoke billows from the fire

Around half of the ground floor, part of the first floor and part of the building's roof were affected. "The mosque itself is believed to be largely unaffected by the fire," the London Fire Brigade said. The fire service were called to the mosque at 12.06pm and 70 firefighters attended.

People gathered opposite the mosque on Saturday, watching a dark plume of smoke billowing out of the building's roof, before they were ushered behind a police cordon.

The cause of the fire is yet to be determined.

People tweeted images from the scene as the fire burned.

Phil Morton, station commander for Croydon fire station, said: "Our crews have worked hard in difficult conditions to minimise fire spread within the building.

"Thankfully they have managed to confine the fire to the administrative buildings on the site and the mosque itself is unaffected.

"We are now continuing to work closely with the local community to ensure our damage control operations take full regard of the religious significance of the building's contents.

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The mosque was built in 2003 for the Ahmadiyya Muslim community and can accommodate 10,000 people. It bears the Ahmadiyya Muslim motto "Love for all, hatred for none".

Merton Council leader Stephen Alambritis told The Press Association that damage to the "beautiful building" would be a "big blow" to the community.

He added: "The congregation there, especially on a Friday, are very large and peaceful and they add very much to the community. This will be a blow to their operation but they will be back."

Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden, Siobhain McDonagh said: "The mosque does a huge amount for the local community. They are tireless raisers of funds for charity - their own charities' funds and charities in the community.