The Austin Fire Department is asking for the public's help in locating the suspect in connection to a potential arson case that started on Halloween night at a synagogue.
AFD said investigators and fire crews responded to a passerby's call about a "small exterior fire" at Congregation Beth Israel, 3901 Shoal Creek Blvd., around 9 p.m. on Oct. 31. The fire was extinguished and no injuries were reported.
According to surveillance footage obtained by AFD, a dark SUV, possibly a 2017 Jeep Compass, drove into the synagogue's parking lot. The man inside was described as a slender, white male with brown hair and a face covering. The man wore green pants, shoes, a black T-shirt and a face covering.
The man approached the front doors of the synagogue while carrying an olive green "jerry can" that was used to carry a flammable liquid. There was also broken glass nearby the scene, which AFD said may mean something was thrown at the building.
Congregation leaders sent out an email to detail the damage, which was estimated to be around $25,000, including the synagogue's wooden doors, smoke damage in the sanctuary space and ceiling tile replacement. They said it will take longer than initially expected to reopen.
AFD on scene of a small exterior fire at Congregation Beth Israel 3901 Shoal Creek Blvd. fire is out. No injuries. Arson investigators responding to assist with cause determination. pic.twitter.com/hgMvJNAk5o
— Austin Fire Info (@AustinFireInfo) November 1, 2021
The synagogue's congregation was formed in the late 1870s and moved into that building in 1956. It has since been added onto and remodeled but the bones remain the same.
On Tuesday, the Travis County Commissioners Court and Austin City Council approved separate resolutions condemning antisemitic acts and statements.
Council Member Alison Alter said she and her family attend Congregation Beth Israel and have been alarmed by the increasing hate speech in Austin. For that reason, Alter said she is sponsoring resolution #64 to improve response to acts of racism, hate and antisemitism.
"Fortunately, no one was hurt, and the fire department responded in a matter of minutes, mitigating the structural damage," Alter said. "It is critical that as a city we join in a united front against hate and make clear that these acts do not represent our community values."
The fire comes on the heels of multiple antisemitic events in Austin—antisemitic banners were hung over local overpasses and high school students parking spots were vandalized with antisemitic graffiti.
It is unknown whether or not any of the recent incidents are connected.
If you have any information about the arson case, contact the AFD investigations office at its 24/7 phone number: (512) 974-0240.
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So you want to buy a house?
To anyone trying to get on the "housing ladder," it's been a discouraging couple of years as prices skyrocketed in a market crowded with buyers bidding against each other for just about any available home.
Things may be calming down, with the Austin Board of REALTORS reporting fewer sales and more available homes this summer.
Mortgage rates have more than doubled in the last year, from around 3% to well over 6% on a 30-year fixed rate loan, getting even more of a bump this week after the Federal Reserve raised bank rates on Wednesday.
So how affordable are homes right now? That, of course, depends on what you want and how much you're able or willing to pay, but here are some rough estimates of what a typical buyer would pay to buy a $650,000 home, which would be considered "mid-price" in today's market.
Mortgage banker Chris Holland (NMLS 211033) of Austin's Sente Mortgage ran some numbers for Austonia to illustrate a typical purchase.
Holland says that while the 30-year fixed rate mortgage is often mentioned in the media, the most popular loan that he's seeing now is a 7/1 adjustable rate mortgage, which has a fixed rate for 7 years and then adjusts every year based on market rates, with a limit on how much it can increase each year. The interest is amortized over a 30-year period. Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) offer lower rates than fixed rate loans.
Here are the numbers, which are examples. In practice, exact numbers vary with a buyer's credit rating and overall financial situation, and with the rate, which can move up or down at any time.
- $650,000 home purchase price
- 7/1 ARM at 5.875%
- 5% down payment, equals $32,500
- 95% financed, equals $617,500
- $4,990 payment, including principle and interest (P&I), insurance, and property tax
- Typically, a borrower's debt to income ratio needs to be at or below 45%. So for this mortgage, a borrower, or borrowers, would need income of roughly $11,100/month, or $133,200/year. That number could be higher, depending on the buyer's outstanding credit balances on things like credit cards and car loans.
Holland says he's had a lot of clients approved for loans who were house hunting but have put that on hold, hoping prices come down.
Camp Fimfo Waco, a brand new camping resort, is kicking off football and fall camping season in style! With top-notch amenities, premium accommodations, and 10 weekends of fall fun, there’s no better place to have a fall camping getaway, especially if you’re a Baylor football fan!
Fall promises to be a one-of-a-kind camping experience. From Sept. 16 to Nov. 24, weekends will be packed with fall-themed activities, including special Halloween weekends in October. Campers can enjoy activities like fall crafts, campground trick-or-treating, costume contests, site decorating, outdoor movie nights, and more!
Packages and Ways to Stay
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Located just 5 miles from McLane Stadium, Camp Fimfo Waco is the perfect place to stay during home game weekends. Skip the stuffy hotel room and embrace the great outdoors before cheering on the Baylor Bears! Campers can purchase a Baylor Tailgating Package that includes a pre-game meal from Executive Chef Sean Kelley and transportation to and from the game! Chef Kelley will also be cooking up delicious, elevated tailgating meals near the stadium so make sure to check out The Plaid Plate food truck before the game.
Stay in style and comfort, no matter your camping preference! At Camp Fimfo Waco, there are multiple ways to stay. Red Carpet RV sites come with a concrete pad and patio, full hook-ups, cable hook-up, a charcoal grill, fire ring and fire pit. Back-in or pull-thru options are available, as well as coveted spots tucked along the Bosque River!
Don’t have an RV? Not a problem, Camp Fimfo Waco has cabins too! Book a Riverview Firewheel Cabin if you’re looking for an air-conditioned oasis for the whole family. Complete with a kitchen and private bathroom, this cabin can fit up to 10 people. Elevate your stay by adding on a golf cart or snag a private cabana by the pool for guaranteed shade. With wifi available throughout the park, you can stay connected during your stay!
Amenities and Activities
Camp Fimfo Waco
Camp Fimfo Waco features lots of amenities to fill your days with fun, whether you’re a kid or kid at heart. After challenging your friends to a game of pickleball, basketball, or mini golf, go for a dip in the resort-style, heated pool - open daily through October! Stay on the weekends through October to enjoy the interactive splash playground. With plenty of ways to burn off energy, like the jumping pillow or playground, you can be sure to end the day with a peaceful night around the campfire!
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