Severe thunderstorms swept through much of the Pee Dee region that afternoon, bringing heavy rain and lightning to Williamsburg County.
Evans said an action plan cannot be deterred by studying statistics on church fires or the possible randomness of clustered events, even though statistically, if the six church fires in the southeast were all that occurred recently it would be a relatively safe period.
A statement from the State Law Enforcement Division released Thursday says investigators found no evidence of criminal intent at the fire at Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church in Greeleyville, and they declared the investigation complete. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church in the small town of Greeleyville, S.C. The church had been rebuilt after the Ku Klux Klan burned it to the ground 20 years ago. Coming after the slayings of nine people June 17 at a historic black church in Charleston, the recent fires attracted scrutiny from police and the general public.
A 21-year-old man, Dylann Roof, has been charged in the shootings, which officials have labeled a hate crime. I’m not sure I’d go to a governor for an update on a fire investigation, honestly.
“Whatever the particulars are in the Greeleyville [and other fires], there’s precedent for concern”, says Dennis Dickerson, a Vanderbilt University historian who has written about the black church.
As stated by a report from 2013, an average of about 31 churches burned every week from 2007 through 2011.
It was the seventh southern church fire to be reported nationwide, plus another in Ohio. Those figures do not break out predominantly white congregations from black congregations. Black churches have been targeted by racists since at least the early 19th century. This one may have been caused by a lightning strike, but nothing has been determined yet.
A fire of undetermined origins destroyed Glover Grove Baptist Church in Warrenville, S.C., on June 26.
“People are very sensitive right now, and I don’t blame them a bit”, Ahrens said.
While arson was one possibility, others pointed to a proliferation of thunderstorms in the vicinity before a local resident called in the fire at 8:30 pm Tuesday (0030 GMT Wednesday).
So far, authorities have not branded any as hate crimes. A few stem from vandalism or personal animosity toward a church.
The status of the predominately black church as a safe place is one reason why they are such clear targets for white supremacist terrorists, from at least the 19th century to 2015.
Only the brick walls remained at Mount Zion Wednesday morning. In the meantime, the church is looking for a temporary house of worship.
GREELEYVILLE, South Carolina – The churches are of different denominations, separated by state and county lines, and by their unique settings and surrounding communities; yet the number and potential pattern have raised alarms. Two ex- members of the Ku Klux Klan pleaded guilty to setting the fire and a new church was erected a year later.
It took more than 75 firefighters to put out the blaze at Briar Creek Road Baptist Church in Charlotte.
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