Pastor, witnesses describe fire at Summerville church

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCBD) – A Summerville church was destroyed by a fire Wednesday, causing the roof to collapse. Now, state and federal agents are investigating what led to the flames breaking out.

“The flames filled the road it was all black and stuff like something you see in a horror movie, almost it was on fire it was kind of scary,” says Antonio Garcia, who lives across the street from the First Emmanuel Baptist Church.

The lead pastor John Hill was inside when the fire started when a man alerted him from outside.

“I thought he was going to put his fist through the window trying to get my attention and he said, your building is on fire you need to get out,” says Pastor John.

Pastor John says he quickly grabbed what he could and came outside to flames spreading throughout the church.

“When I was getting in the car, I turned around and looked, saw smoke coming out of the back of the church, and just a little bit of the front. I moved my car to the front side of the parking lot,” he says.

Dorchester County fire crews say when they arrived at the scene the fire was coming from the attic of the church and in a few minutes crews arrived on the scene to start putting out the flames.

“Crews commenced to doing fire attack on which time they went in and found conditions starting to deteriorate. As they pulled out we had a roof collapse about 15 to 20 minutes into the fire,” says Chief Tres Atkinson of Dorchester County Fire and Rescue.

Robb Hibbard, a lead pastor of Hope Church in Summerville says he and his family have been affected by a house fire and is stepping in to help by offering his church’s space.

“Immediately wanted to know what can we do to make sure that they can still come together as a family wherever they need to,” says Hibbard.

The church is celebrating its 85th anniversary in October. Pastor John says as the road to rebuilding the church begins, his faith, church family and the community is getting him through this hard time.

“These things you look at it as a tragedy which it is, but if it will bring a community together I am good with that,” says Pastor John.

State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) are investigating the cause of the fire.

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Author: Lexi Moore