BOWDON, Ga. (AP) — A historic Georgia church was “engulfed in flames” Monday and officials believe the fire was intentional.
The Carroll County Sheriff’s office said fire crews responded to Smith Chapel Methodist Church in Bowdon and found the 100-year-old building in flames, news outlets reported. No one was injured.
County Communications Director Ashley Hulsey told the Times-Georgian a witness saw flames coming from a pile of hymnals at the pulpit inside the chapel.
Hulsey said the building did not have electricity or gas and weather conditions were “pristine,” ruling out an accidental fire.
Investigators said they were searching for suspects in the arson.
The Georgia Arson Control Hotline is offering a $10,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest and conviction.
The church was founded by the Methodist Rev. John Thurman in 1851 and was formerly known as Mount Pleasant, according to Historic Rural Churches of Georgia, news outlets reported.
Myric Young told the Times-Georgian she inherited the property the chapel rested on from her parents. She said vandalism has occurred for years and the family would call authorities but no vandals were ever caught.
“It makes me really really mad,” Young said. “I don’t understand how anybody could be mean enough to burn a building, especially if it’s a church building.”
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