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‘A divine intervention’: How Sacramento’s Muslim graveyard was saved from fire due to construction

By Maricela De La Cruz

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    SACRAMENTO COUNTY, California (KCRA) — Hundreds of acres of land were charred as the Excelsior Fire burned through Sacramento County over the weekend.

The flames ripped through nearly 900 acres of vegetation, and evacuation orders were in place. By Monday, crews had contained the fire.

Within hours, evacuation orders were in effect as the fire threatened the only Muslim cemetery in the Greater Sacramento area on one of the biggest Islamic holidays, Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice.

“As I was speaking to one of the tractor operators, I noticed that the smoke was getting thicker and the fire was getting closer, so I asked him, get down and let’s evacuate,” said Salem Ammar, the cemetery manager of the Greater Sacramento Muslim Cemetery, adding that he was extremely concerned that the Excelsior Fire might engulf the cemetery.

The packed cemetery was evacuated as the thick smoke and flames inched closer.

With over two decades serving the Muslim community, the crowded graveyard may have been salvaged due to the current work on the property.

The headstones remained intact on the property on Tuesday as piles of dirt and gravel stopped the fire.

“As a Muslim and as a believer — of course, nothing happens by accident, so there is no doubt that god almighty saved this cemetery for us,” Ammer said.

The Muslim cemetery has about 1,000 gravesites and is expanding.

A spokesperson for Sacramento Metro Fire told KCRA 3 that they are still assessing the damage from the fire.

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