by: Tina Terry Updated:
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. - Police are investigating whether foul play was involved in a fire that seriously damaged a Kannapolis church.
It happened early on Saturday morning as church members were preparing to decorate for Christmas.
Eyewitness News talked to church members who will have to hold service somewhere else.
Emergency workers estimate the fire caused more than $70,000 in damage to the church and investigators believe someone may have done it intentionally.
When Dale Weast arrived at her church to decorate for Christmas, she spotted thick billows of smoke just beyond the church's steeple.
"I thought maybe it was just somebody burning something and I come on up and I see it was coming out of the church and I pulled into the lot and we called 911," she said.
Firefighters arrived quickly and closed down part of West A Street in Kannapolis.
It took about 50 firefighters to work their way into the back of the building and get the fire on the main floor under control. Soon, they found another problem.
"They discovered there was actually a metal roof that had been built in over the existing shingle roof, so they had small amounts of fire there," said Weast.
The church's pastor rushed to the scene.
"First was shock and awe then an immediate concern," said Pastor Nicholas Jackson.
After a few hours, investigators turned the case over to police, where they found evidence suggesting the fire was not an accident.
In the meantime, members of West A Tabernacle Baptist Church are out of a home, but they said their work will continue.
The 40-plus members who attend the church will meet in another building that they own behind a sanctuary on Sunday morning.