FORT MILL, S.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - It's still unclear what caused a historic church to catch fire Sunday night in Fort Mill. Members say the building was built more than 100 years ago.
Video from the scene of Unity Presbyterian Church on Tom Hall St. showed flames shooting up through the roof of the church.
The pastor says the building has to be gutted now, after the fire damaged an old part of the sanctuary, making a mess of a beloved piece of history.
The pastor of the church, Mark Diehl told us tonight that there is no reason to believe the fire is suspicious, but it took a chunk of history with it, damaging a landmark many know and love.
“They chose brick because the other two had burned down because it wasn't brick. This one was built in the 1880s,” Pastor Diehl said.
Today, the building has burn marks and tell-tale signs of Sunday night's fire on the outside. A look on the inside shows just how bad it is.
“The historic sanctuary has sustained some smoke and water damage,” Pastor Diehl said.
The blaze itself was first discovered after a fire alarm went off at the church, just before 10:00 p.m. on Sunday night.
The Fort Mill Fire Station is practically next door to the church, but even by the time they got there, most of the damage was done.
“We had three ladder trucks in the air just in case things got away, but luckily we were able to save most of the original sanctuary,” Fort Mill Fire Department Chief Chipper Wilkerson said.
The fire is believed to be centered around the church's unity hall, which is right next to the old sanctuary.
It wasn't used for regular services, but it was used for weddings, funerals, and community meetings, and even if they weren't member, people in Fort Mill know the church well.
‘Both of my kids went to pre-school here, and their great-grandmother goes to day classes here,” Chris Timmons said. “It’s just sad. There's a lot of history to the church. It's a big part of Fort Mill-- a central part of Fort Mill.”
Pastor Diehl says that history will continue.
“This church is resilient and we will do what needs to be done.”
We're told events at the church have been suspended for the time being. If it wasn't the fire, other parts of the church had water and smoke damage. The pastor tells us that they hope to fix it all, including the old sanctuary.