Federal officials investigating after South Carolina church catches fire

A fire broke out at the Mt. Zion AME Church in Greeleyville, South Carolina, June 30, 2015. (Photo: Clarendon County Fire Department via ABC News)

A historically black church in South Carolina with a history of being targeted caught fire Tuesday night.

Investigators are trying to determine the case, ABC News reports.

Investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) were on scene at Mt. Zion AME Church in Greeleyville, but the cause was not clear. State and federal authorities are involved with the investigation.

The KKK burned the church to the ground in 1995. President Clinton spoke at the dedication of the newly rebuilt church the next year.

The fire comes amid heightened fears over church burnings. This in the wake of the massacre of nine people at the historically black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

A State Law Enforcement Division official said that storms moved through the area and that the fire may have been caused by lightning, according to the Associated Press.

But as the fire continued to smolder overnight, the cause remained a mystery. It was unclear if there were injuries or how much damage was done.

Federal officials said Tuesday that a string of five church fires in the South appeared not to be racially motivated or related, although some were deemed to be arson.

The ATF, which issued the statement, said that the investigation was in the preliminary stages.

“We are in the early stages of these investigations, but at this time we have no reason to believe these fires are racially motivated or related,” the statement said of the fires, which have occurred in the past nine days.

ABC News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s