The FBI and other agencies are investigating a fire that destroyed a predominantly black Aiken County church early Friday.
Midland Valley firefighters were called to Glover Grove Baptist Church on Project Road in Warrenville about 3:30 a.m. The fire, which was fully involved when they arrived, took about an hour to extinguish, according to a sheriff’s office news release. No one was injured.
When the Rev. Bobby Jones arrived at the scene, it was already a total loss. “It was gone when we got there.
That quick,” he said. “It’s a mystery to me.”
The church, which has about 35 active members, was established about 130 years ago and had been at its current location for about 30 years. Jones said the previous location had issues with vandalism and was lost in a suspected arson.
The new building never had those problems, said Jones, who has been leading the congregation for about 30 years.
“It’s a complete loss,” said Angulis Williams, who is a deacon and a member of Glover Grove Baptist since childhood. “It burned from one end to the other.”
Williams said they’re trying not to jump to conclusions but the fire does seem suspicious. No one had been at the church since services Sunday, and it didn’t have any known electrical problems.
Forensic investigators, along with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the FBI and the ATF, spent most of the morning sifting through the rubble looking for clues.
Aiken County sheriff’s Capt. Eric Abdullah said the involvement of the ATF and FBI should not be construed as an indication of foul play. At this point, nothing about the origin or cause of the fire has been determined.
Source: Augusta Chronicle | Bianca Cain Johnson