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Pastor fears church fire was set; anti-gay graffiti found

VALE, N.C. – The pastor of a church hit by a fire early Monday says he's concerned it may have been started on purpose, reports Charlotte affiliate WBTV.

No one was hurt in the blaze that started at about 2 a.m. at the Providence Baptist Church in Vale, in Catawba County, the church deacon says, adding no one was inside when the fire alarm went off.

There was significant smoke damage, WBTV says.

The church pastor says vandalism behind the building is sparking worries that the fire was set:

Spray-painted graffiti read "Anti-Gay Hate Group." 

Deputies with the Catawba County Sheriff's Office are investigating.

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