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Fire at black North Carolina church is ruled arson

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Investigators with the Charlotte Fire Department say a fire at a predominantly black church is a case of arson.

A statement from the fire department said it took about an hour to get Wednesday morning's fire at Briar Creek Road Baptist Church under control. Two firefighters were treated for heat-related injuries.

The department's statement said a resident from a nearby apartment complex called 911 just before 1 a.m. and reported the fire.

"We completed our work on the scene and determined this was intentionally set," Charlotte Fire Department Senior Investigator David Williams said. "Now we're asking the public to call us if they have any more information about the fire."

Williams didn't say what evidence exists to show the fire was intentionally set.

The church's congregation is predominantly black, and there are about 100 members. Investigators are not sure if the fire was racially motivated.

Pastor Mannix Kinsey told CBS affiliate WBTV that the congregation has "already forgiven" whoever set the fire.

The church building, which dates back to the 1980s, sustained excessive damage to its education building. The rest of the property, including the sanctuary and gymnasium, has smoke damage. Total damage is estimated at more than $250,000, the department said.

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