SLED, ATF investigating after fire guts beloved Rock Hill church

ROCK HILL, S.C. — Dozens of firefighters worked for nearly an hour to put out flames at a Rock Hill church early Thursday morning.

[PHOTOS: Flames destroy Rock Hill church]

Fire crews were called just after 6:15 a.m. to the Gospel Light Baptist Church on West Main Street and found heavy smoke and flames coming from the church.

Video from Channel 9’s radio partners, WRHI, showed multiple crews on the scene and smoke billowing into the air.

Firefighters were able to get the fire under control by 7:30 a.m.

The roof was gone and officials deemed the church, which has been a staple in the community for seven decades, a total loss.

West Main Street between Lancaster Avenue and Constitution Boulevard will be closed for the rest of the day, city officials said.

Officials from the State Law Enforcement Department as well as ATF agents were heading to the scene to investigate.

From Chopper 9 Skyzoom, the whole roof of the church was gone and the inside was badly damaged.

The church was built in the 1950s has about 80 regular worshippers on Sunday mornings. The last service was on Easter. The pastor, Bruce Wyatt, told Channel 9 he was at the church Wednesday afternoon, like usual, and nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

"It was very shocking (to learn of the fire) and, of course, emotional and all, but the Lord's got a plan," he said. "We don't know why things happen, but there's a reason."

Wyatt said church service will now be held in a small fellowship hall next to the church until they can figure out what to do next.

Church members told Channel 9 Thursday that they are stunned.

"I love this church, and I never imagined something like this would happen," said Butch Daniels.

Nobody was injured but there is no word on what may have started the blaze. Investigators used a drone Thursday to get inside and look for evidence of where the fire started. There's no evidence so far that the fire is suspicious, but state and federal investigators always come in when there's a church fire.

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