Woodruff Road was shut down for hours Wednesday as firefighters worked to douse a fire at a Simpsonville church.
Fire crews were called to Advent United Methodist about 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, according to Pelham Batesville Fire Chief Phill Jolley. Flames could still be seen more than an hour later as dozens of people gathered to watch crews battle the blaze from a ladder truck.
The church was being remodeled and most of its furnishings were inside the sanctuary when the fire started, Jolley said.
"We’re certain that the fire had something to do with the construction but we’re not exactly sure what yet," he said.
Investigators would return to the church Thursday to try to determine the cause, Jolley said. The sanctuary, which was severely damaged, was a total loss.
Pastor Michael Turner said the church has been worshiping in a building next door since Jan. 1 when construction began. Turner said the sanctuary "was virtually empty" at the time.
No one was injured, though a couple of firefighters were treated for exhaustion, Jolley said.
The church is next to Mary Magdalene Catholic Church and across the street from Primrose School of Simpsonville at Five Forks. The Primrose school was being evacuated as of 2:30 p.m. due to the smoke in the area.
Drivers who weren't coming to pick up their children were being turned around about a block away from the church.
Firefighters were able to reopen Woodruff Road around 5 p.m. Crews were still at the scene at 9 p.m. Wednesday and planned to remain there through the night, Jolley said.
"This large a structure, there's so many places we can't reach physically to check, so we have to stay with it," he said.
Advent UMC posted a message to church members on its Facebook page saying, "Advent family, You may have seen or heard that there is a fire in our sanctuary. Everyone at Advent is OK. Please do not come to the church as crews are working. Join us in prayer. We will keep you updated."
A later post announced all evening activities at the church would be canceled.
The Clear Springs, Boiling Springs and Mauldin fire departments also responded to the scene.