Lightning may have started fire at historic Black church in Virginia

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Fire officials in Virginia say that lightning may have sparked a massive fire that destroyed an historic Black church in the city of Chesapeake.

The Virginian-Pilot reported that an early Friday morning fire destroyed much of the Gabriel Chapel AME Zion Church.

The church said on its website that it’s the oldest in what is known as the Long Ridge and Cuffeytown Community. It was established in 1866 by free Black people following the Civil War.

Fire Capt. Christopher Mackiewicz said it took about two and a half hours to get the blaze under control.

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