In what may not be a coincidence, a string of nighttime fires have damaged or destroyed at least six predominately black churches in four southern states in the past week.
Arsonists started at least three of the fires, while other causes are being examined in the other fires, investigators say.
The series of fires – some of them suspicious and possible hate crimes — came in the week following a murderous rampage by a white supremacist who shot and killed nine people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C.
The most recent fires occurred early today at the Glover Grover Baptist Church, in Warrenville, S.C., and at the Greater Miracle Apostolic Holiness Church in Tallahassee, Fla.
Federal agents have been brought in to assist local officials in determining the unknown cause of the fire at the Glover Grove Baptist church. In Tallahassee, fire officials say the fire that totally destroyed the Apostolic Holiness Church may have been caused by a tree limb falling on overhead electrical lines.
While those investigations continue, arson was determined to be the cause of three fires earlier in the week at other predominately black churches in the South.
The first arson fire occurred in the early morning hours of Monday, June 22, at the College Hills Seventh Day Adventist Church, home to a predominately black congregation, in Knoxville, Tenn.
In that one the arsonist set multiple fires all around the building.
The following day, Tuesday June 23, an arsonist was blamed for a fire in the sanctuary s at God’s Power Church of Christ in Macon, Ga.
“Right now we are investigating as if it was a set fire,” said Sgt. Ben Gleaton, an arson investigator for the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department, told the Macon Telegraph.
The third suspected arson fire occurred in the predawn hours of Wednesday, June 24, at the Briar Creek Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C.
That fire, reported at 1 a.m. EDT, caused an estimated $250,000 in damage, destroying an education wing in one of four buildings that make up the Briar Creek Road Baptist Church complex in east Charlotte, authorities said. The church’s sanctuary and gymnasium sustained heavy smoke damage.
Setting fires at night – it’s what the Klan does.