Investigators say they suspect arson in a fast-moving, two-alarm blaze that heavily damaged a Dallas LGBTQ resource center early yesterday morning.
The conflagration, which swept through the Abounding Prosperity Center, that primarily serves LGBT people of color, “was determined to be incendiary in nature, and was set at some point in the rear of the building”, said Jason Evans of the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department.
The blaze completely gutted the building’s back office, and caused smoke and soot damage throughout the structure, located on Peabody Avenue in the city’s South Dallas section. No injuries or fatalities were reported.
Kirk Myers, the center’s CEO, lamented the inability to continue providing vital services to the community, as a result of the attack against his organization. “There’s going to be an interruption of HIV treatment and HIV testing starting today,” he said, because the necessary equipment and records were destroyed in the inferno.
Myers cited the growing trend of homophobia and bigotry that has arisen since the election of President Trump, as a causative factor in the assault on the center. “You know where my mind immediately goes, is that the political climate in the world we’re living in today, is creating an atmosphere where this sort of activity could be acceptable in someone’s mind,” he fumed.
Detectives are looking into a possible hate-crimes case connected to the fire, and witnesses say they saw an unidentified man drive away from the scene at high speed as smoke began issuing from the building.
Myers, meanwhile, says he hasn’t received any threats against the group, which serves approximately 2,000 regular clients. “None that would give us any cause for concern for this sort of outcome,” he observed. “So that is why this is especially alarming for us today.”
Dallas Fire Rescue is asking anyone with information about the fire to call them at (214) 670-4319. All calls will be kept confidential.