Six predominantly black churches in the South have caught fire less than two weeks after the shooting at Emanuel AME church left nine people dead. The Washington Post reports three of the church fires are being investigated as arson.
The first fire occurred on June 21 when hay bales outside of College Hill Seventh Day Adventist in Knoxville, Tennessee were set on fire. The blaze caused damage to the church and church van.
On June 23, God’s Power Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia was set on fire. Firefighters arrived at the scene to find the front doors wired shut. Authorities are considering the fire an arson, though not a hate crime.
Briar Creek Road Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina was the next to be set on fire on June 24. The blaze was determined to be arson and caused over $250,000 in damage.
Glover Grove Baptist Church of Warrenville, South Carolina caught fire on June 26. The cause of the fire is not yet known.
Most recently Fruitland Presbyterian Church in Gibson County, Tennessee and the Greater Miracle Temple Apostolic Holiness Church in Tallahassee, Florida burned. These fires are under investigation but officials believe the fires were not set deliberately.
Officials are working with the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to determine who set the fires that were deemed arson and if there is any connection between them. Currently, authorities said there is no evidence that suggests the fires are linked.
Publication date: June 30, 2015