PERQUIMANS COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) — It’s going to take a lot more than the governor giving the go-ahead for one North Carolina church to reopen its doors.
The Perquimans County fire marshal and sheriff’s office are investigating after they say Spirit and Truth United Methodist Church was purposely set on fire.
Officials say it happened just after 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night off Main Street. About 30 firefighters fought the blaze into the morning hours.
“When I pulled up, I almost couldn’t even get there because there was about anywhere from eight to 12 fire trucks and hoses all over the street. We really couldn’t get close to the church at all when we first pulled up,” said Spirit and Truth Methodist Church pastor Arthur Manigault.
Officials say due to the location of the fire, the church building suffered significant heat and smoke damage throughout the entire building.
The fire marshal believes the fire is an arson based on evidence inside the church.
Manigault says whoever set the fire stole a 72-inch television that was anchored on a wall, then set that wall on fire in an attempt to cover up the theft.
“I went there the day after and they saw exactly where the fire was started and it looks like they took a centerpiece off of one of the tables and set the centerpiece on fire and put it against the table and pushed the table up against the wall… It burned right from the middle of the church across both sides of the back of the church,” said Manigault.
Manigault says the City of Hertford is in the process of finding the congregation a new place to hold worship services until repairs can be made.
He’s set up a GoFundMe me with a goal of $20,000 to get started.
As for the culprits — Manigault is praying for them.
“The only thing we can do as Christians is to pray for those that are lost that do things like that,” he said.
The case is still under investigation and officials encourage anyone with information to contact the fire marshal or sheriff’s office.