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Cause of fire remains unknown

  • Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The cause of a June 30, fire that gutted the Mt. Zion AME Church on Highway 357 has not been determined. The statement came during a press conference at 10:00 AM this morning after the fire. ATF agent Craig Chillcott said it is premature to make a cause of origin, or determination, before investigators have done what they need to do. "We're not going to get into the specifics of the investigation," said Chillcott, ATF special agent in charge for South Carolina. "What I can tell you is we've got everybody here humanly possible to investigate it and we're going to let the facts determine it." Chillcott said the results could take a week or more before a determination is made, "depending on how the integrity of the church is, how dangerous it is for the investigators to enter the building, and what equipment will be needed."  Elder Allen Parrott said the church will remain strong. "We're a little distressed when something happens in a place of worship," said Parrott. "It causes you to feel a great deal of remorse but at the same time we are left with our hope." Williamsburg, Kingstree, Clarendon, Berkeley, and South Lynches Fire Departments doused the blaze. South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) are investigating. The original Mt. Zion AME Church which was located a few miles from where the Tuesday night fire took place was burned to the ground on June 20, 1995 ago in a hate crime by two KKK members. A year later President Bill Clinton attended the dedication of the new church.  Read the entire story in the upcoming July 8, issue of The News.

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