SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) – Investigators say a fire that destroyed a church being constructed for a predominantly black congregation was intentionally set.

But they say there’s no evidence the arson was a hate crime, except for the timing of the fire hours after the nation elected its first black president. The findings were announced Saturday at a news conference by local, state and federal safety officials, including state Fire Marshal Stephen Coan.

The fire early Wednesday destroyed the building of Macedonia Church of God in Christ, which was scheduled to open in a few months.

Damage was estimated at $2 million.

The church’s pastor, Bishop Bryant Robinson, says the congregation will rebuild.

AP-ES-11-08-08 1500EST

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