Briar Creek Road Baptist Church Fire Ruled Arson

CHARLOTTE -- Charlotte Fire Department investigators have determined a fire that destroyed part of the Briar Creek Road Baptist Church early Wednesday morning was intentionally set.

"Fire pattern analysis and excavation of fire debris, looking for clues and evidence and the evidence that we found out here does indicate that it's a set fire," said CFD Senior Fire Investigator David Williams.

The fire has left church leaders in complete shock.

"Shock. Disbelief," said Co-Pastor Rhonda Kinsey. "You hear about it, but you never imagine you would have a fire at your church."

The fire started around 1 a.m., taking 75 firefighters more than an hour to eventually put out.

Two were even hospitalized for heat exhaustion.

Now, investigators said they're searching for a list of suspects.

"Yes, we do have a few but we would like to reach out to the community too that if anyone has seen or knows anything to please call Crime Stoppers or call the fire department," Williams said.

Though the sanctuary was saved, the church's rear building is a total loss, which cancels a summer program for 28 registered children.

Coming to grips with the fact this fire was set on purpose, church leaders said they're turning to prayer instead of anger.

"When I did think about the possibilities of there being any ugliness behind this, I instantly start praying and just saying: 'God, just please have mercy,'" Kinsey said.

If you have any information about the case, call Crime Stoppers at 704-344-1600. 

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