North Carolina officials have ruled a fire that broke at a historically black church in Charlotte was an act of arson and are now trying to determine whether the act was also a hate crime.
“We completed our work on the scene and determined this was intentionally set,” David Williams, Charlotte Fire Department’s senior fire investigator, told Reuters.
The blaze engulfed Briar Creek Baptist Church early Wednesday morning, completely destroyed the main building and causing an estimated $250,000 in damage. No civilians were hurt, but two firefighters had minor injuries, the Washington Post reported.
“Anytime anybody sets any kind of structure on fire that’s disturbing,” Charlotte Fire Department Public Information Manager Cynthia Robbins Shah-Khan told the Washington Post. “But as of today we don’t have any information one way or the other. The investigators are just going to be following the leads and seeing where it takes them.” The fire reached the three-alarm level and took about an hour to be contained, according to WCNC.
The Charlotte Fire Department kept the public informed through early-morning updates on Twitter.