Flames swallowed the historic African-American Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church in Greeleyville City, North of Charleston, South Carolina on Tuesday night, news said, though the cause of fire is still not determined.
Fire teams struggled for four hours to control the situation, but failed to save the church that was already attempted to set ablaze in 1995 by the Ku Klux Klan. News said the lightning could have set alight the church, although recent events such as the killing of 9 Afro-American churchgoers while having a prayer service could also be a source of concern.
“It’s gone,” Cezar McKnight sighed as he watched the flames ravaged the church from afar.
“They don’t know the cause yet, but I am hoping for the best. South Carolina has been through a lot the last two weeks and we have made the best of a terrible situation. I would hate for this to be something somebody did on purpose to try to poison the love and fellowship,” The Post and Courier quoted McKnight.
Mark Keel, division chief of State Law Enforcement told media a couple of agents responded to the fire and a few federal agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were informed.
Keel also said that investigation will not commence until the fire is completely extinguished, which was only recorded by midnight, according to investigator Alex Edwards from Williamsburg County Sheriff’s Office.
Mount Zion AME Church, situated at 564 Mackey Road, was more than 100 years old. Ku Klux Klan attempted to destroy two churches in 1995 Mount Zion included. The other church was Macedonia Baptist Church in Bloomville.
News said the response to the fire 20 years ago was the same to the response gained during the Emanuel Church shooting. Then-President Bill Clinton urged churchgoers to “restore hope, to show the forces of hatred they cannot win.”
Two white men suspected of having connections with the KKK were arrested in connection with the fire incident. The young men confessed to being members of the KKK but their lawyer said they have since renounced their membership.
President Barack Obama addressed the nation an hour after the suspect of the Emanuel Church massacre was arrested, saying the church is historic as it symbolizes the struggle of his predecessors in gaining liberty.
“This is a church that was burned to the ground because its worshipers worked to end slavery. When there were laws banning all-black church gatherings, they conducted services in secret,” Mr, Obama said.