NC church fire ruled arson, ‘anti-gay’ graffiti found

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VALE, N.C. — A 2-alarm fire reported early Monday morning at a North Carolina church has been ruled an arson, WSOC reports.

Crews were called around 2 a.m. to Providence Baptist Church in Vale and found flames and smoke coming from the building.

No injuries were reported, but investigators are calling the fire suspicious after finding “anti-gay” vandalism behind the church, feet from where the fire is believed to have started.

Investigators believe the fire started in the boiler room in the basement and most of the damage was confined inside the church, in the back where Sunday school is taught.

The church’s pastor said he holds no ill will toward whoever left the message.

“Our prayers are for them because we love people,” said pastor Ernest Richards. “With our love for them, regardless of what they’ve done, we’re still going to have that compassion for people.”

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, deputies and the fire marshal are investigating the fire.