Officials rule abandoned Greenville church fire accidental - FOX Carolina 21

Officials rule abandoned Greenville church fire accidental

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Flames shoot through the roof of the abandoned church. (May 11, 2013/Courtesy Kimberly Panighepti) Flames shoot through the roof of the abandoned church. (May 11, 2013/Courtesy Kimberly Panighepti)
Flames shoot through the abandoned church. (May 11, 2013/Courtesy Kimberly Panighepti) Flames shoot through the abandoned church. (May 11, 2013/Courtesy Kimberly Panighepti)
GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

A fire at a large church in the Sans Souci area of Greenville County on Sunday night was ruled accidental, according to a representative of the sheriff's office.

Firefighters with the Parker District Fire Department were called to the abandoned Restoration Fellowship at Gridley and Morris streets in Greenville about 8 p.m. where the fire blazes and smoke could be seen from miles away.

Many living nearby were evacuated from their homes for several hours.

Authorities said the building is an abandoned church that has been vacant for more than a decade.

According to Travis Ballenger, whose father-in-law manages the property, the church had become full of items such as mattresses and candles, thought to have been brought in by the area's homeless. 

Ballenger said his father-in-law recently hired a crew to remove the stuff and clean up the property. He says the crew was there working on Sunday, the day the fire broke out. 

Firefighters said no one was injured in the fire, but because the smoke was so heavy, residents nearby may need to take some precautions to clear their homes of the smell. The American Red Cross has some tips for people needing to clean up their homes after a fire here.

According to an arson investigator at the scene, the fire appears to have been caused by the work done earlier that day.

Public information officer Jonathan Smith said they are ruling the fire an accident, and closing the case.

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