UPDATE, July 1, 8:54 a.m. ET: A law enforcement source told the Associated Press the fire is not arson.
A black church roughly 60 miles north of Charleston, South Carolina, was engulfed in flames Tuesday night.
— Andrew Knapp (@offlede) July 1, 2015
Heavy fire at Mt Zion AME church near Greeleyville in Williamsburg County. Mutual aid dept's on scene. pic.twitter.com/GoQESXdJPS
— Carter Jones (@SCFireCarter) July 1, 2015
Officials said Mt. Zion AME Church, near Greeleyville, South Carolina, was fully engulfed in flames, according to BuzzFeed News. The cause of the fire wasn’t immediately clear.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was also on the scene Tuesday night.
BREAKING: ATF on the scene at Mt. Zion AME church fire in Greeleyville, SC.
— ATF HQ (@ATFHQ) July 1, 2015
The church fire was gaining national attention on Tuesday as federal investigators are currently looking into several instances of arson at black churches spanning multiple southern states.
Further, Mt. Zion AME Church is a prominent black church that was previously burned to the ground by the Ku Klux Klan in 1995, the Post and Courier reported. It is the seventh church to go up in flames since a gunman killed nine people at a historically black church in Charleston — but arson is reportedly suspected in only three of the cases so far. Lightning is suspected in a church fire in Fruitland, Tennessee, and a storm is suspected in another.
Hours before the fire at the Greeleyville church on Tuesday, the NAACP warned black churches to take “necessary precautions” as investigators attempt to get to the bottom of the outbreak of church fires in the south.
NAACP State Conferences and units are now alerting black churches to take necessary precautions. #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches
— NAACP (@NAACP) June 30, 2015