A recent arson at a predominantly black church in North Carolina is now being considered a possible hate crime. The Briar Creek Road Baptist Church in Charlotte was intentionally set on fire on Wednesday, only subsiding after 75 firefighters spent an hour regaining control. The fire was reported just after 1 a.m., with Pastor Mannix Kinsey describing the scene upon his arrival as devastating. "I was even amazed to see that the flames were so high,” Kinsey tells WBTV. "I am thinking 'Oh my goodness. This church is going to be destroyed.’”

Though the entire church ultimately wasn't destroyed, a costly majority of the structure was completely lost in the fire — with estimated damages currently totaling (at least) $250,000. Local officials say they have no reason to believe anyone was killed during the inferno, though two firefighters received treatment for heat-related injuries. Though no suspects have been directly named by the investigation, Kinsey says he's already forgiven the potential culprits. "I can speak for this church," Kinsey says, "[and] we’ve already forgiven them and we want to move forward."

News of the Briar Creek arson comes in the wake of the Charleston Church Massacre, the domestic terrorist attack — driven by a violent adherence to racism — which took 9 lives and reignited the debate surrounding the oppressive and painful sentiments supported by displaying the Confederate flag.

More to come.

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