VALE, N.C. (CBS/WBTV) – 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 pastor of the church is concerned that the fire may have been intentionally set. Hate speech was found spray-painted behind the church that read “Anti-Gay Hate Group.”
Deputies with the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office are investigating.
The church is expected to hold a prayer service Monday night at 6 p.m.
© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.