Wilmington Church Picks Up the Pieces After Fire

"It's real difficult to see something go down that you love."

The pastor of New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church on Vandever Avenue in Wilmington, watching in disbelief as crews using heavy equipment dig through what's left of this house of worship, as the church went up in flames just after 7:00 last night.

"It's like you lost a child. We've been through all the building for 31 years, you know, top to bottom.it's like a part of you."

The fire so fierce, the building collapsing just minutes after fire crews arrived on the scene here, the siding melting off nearby townhomes.

"This is the hurtingest thing I've ever had."

The fire marshall and the ATF on scene all day, questioning witnesses, looking through the debris for any clue as what started this. Federal investigators are on location because a church is involved.

"Because of the possible hate crime that may be associated with the incident," Wilmington Fire Dept. Chief Timothy Perkins said.

A witness to the fire, who does not want to be identified, says he saw two men going into the church, about a half hour to 45 minutes before the flames broke out.

"Two white guys going in there, both had containers in their hands, like milk containers, one had something red, one was clear, one had a brush and they told me and my brother they were going to winterize."

He doesn't know what to think. This is the second fire here in just over two weeks. The pastor wonders if that is more than a coincidence.

"To have it done twice in two weeks and both on a Wednesday… kind of difficult to believe its accidental."

Those is the community are coming together to help the church which has been at this location since the early 1970s.

"We got a lot of churches that will help them. We are little small churches but we stick together," neighboring church neighbor Charles Sullivan said.