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Another church on fire in South Carolina

Another church on fire in South Carolina

Updated 10:35 p.m. CNN is reporting that 50 firefighters were on hand to battle the blaze and so far authorities do not know what caused it.

The Washington Post reports:

It’s still unclear how Tuesday’s fire started, officials said. Pete Mohlin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in North Charleston, told the Post and Courier that there was a lot of lightning in the Greeleyville area between 6:30 and 7 p.m. But, he added, there is no way of knowing whether lightning started the fire.

Crews from Clarendon County and Williamsburg County are still fighting the blaze, which Clarendon County Fire Department special projects coordinator Carter Jones described as “heavy” in a tweet. Officials likely won’t know what caused the fire until it is extinguished.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is also on the scene. The agency is leading investigations of five other fires that have struck Southern churches in recent weeks. So far, three of the incidents have been identified as arson, but none are confirmed to be hate crimes.

9:14 p.m. Mount Pleasant, S.C.-based ABC affiliate reports that Mount Zion AME Church in Greeleyville, S.C. is on fire tonight:

A black church is on fire tonight 20 years after it was burned to the ground by two former members of the KKK.

Firefighters in Williamsburg County are battling a fire at Mount Zion AME Church on Mackey Road in Greeleyville, sources say.

Media partner reports the fire burned through the roof. Clarendon, Manning and Kingstree fire departments are all at the scene.

The fire comes about a week after Mount Zion AME was featured in a Los Angeles Times story about the long history of violence against black churches and 20 years after it was burned to the ground by two former members of the KKK.

It is about the seventh Southern church to catch fire in recent weeks. is also following this story, and according to a brief report has sent a reporter to the scene and will be posting updates.

Posted by Cara Ellen Modisett


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Scott Wesley

It is a relief of sorts that this particular fire appears to be lightning (arson by act of God?… bad humor…). And the analysis of the “spate” of fires suggests that it is not a spate, but just the “normal” number of church fires – some by error, some by nature, some by arson.

BUT – the “normal” pattern, apparently, can have up to 5 fires in a week… which is shocking to me. AND from the little bit dribbling out, it appears that fires are far more likely at historically black churches, especially in the South.

So while this fire may be just a consequence of weather (and perhaps poor lightning protection), we need to look seriously at the persistent patterns of racial hatred that play out in our society. We have lots of home-grown terrorism and it is directed way disproportionately a black people.

JC Fisher

After their history, please, dear God, tell me they had security cameras…

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