Crime

Horry County church fire deemed suspicious

A fire that broke out during the early hours of Wednesday morning at a Myrtle Beach area church is considered suspicious, and multiple agencies are investigating.

Horry County Fire Rescue crews were called out to battle the blaze at 12:13 a.m. at the Heavenly Grace Ministries Church at 5288 Peachtree Road in the Myrtle Beach area, according to a release from Mark Nugent, HCFR spokesman.

A followup fire investigation by the HCFR investigation unit, along with the Horry County Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, showed the fire’s cause is suspicious, Nugent said.

The ATF is alerted whenever there is a fire at a house of worship, Nugent added.

“When I was called I was told the church was on fire, but when I got here the firefighters already had the fire out and the only damage we had really is around the doors, the door facing, that’s really all the damage we had,” Pastor Allen Brown said. “It didn’t get up in the roof. They said once it was called, they think within 10 minutes the fire department was already here.”

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The minimal damage from the blaze did not stop Brown from holding a service the next evening, saying that business will continue as usual at the church and its estimated 35 to 40 members.

Thursday afternoon, some members of the church gathered to watch a new sign go up that announces the times of the services with the two charred doorways in the background.

“We’re just doing the mission that God’s called us to do — try to get people to church and try to lead them to Christ and try to do the best we can,” Brown said. “We had church service last night. We weren’t going to let this stop our church service even if we had to have it outside.”

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Nugent said no one was inside when the blaze broke out, and no one was hurt in the fire, which impacted the fellowship side of the building, not the sanctuary.

He said multiple agencies are still investigating how the fire got started and stated there were no further details to release.

Anyone with information on the fire can call the Horry County police tip line at 843-915-8477, or email the Horry County Investigations Division at crimetips@horrycounty.org.

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