STATESBORO — A teenager was arrested Tuesday in an arson fire that severely damaged a 114-year-old church.

Only the office area and a new social hall of the Emit Grove Baptist Church were saved from the overnight blaze, Statesboro fire Capt. Larry Colbert said.

Travis Jay Holcomb, 17, was charged with burglary and arson after investigators found items taken from the church and clothing that smelled of fuel, said Bulloch County Sheriff Lynn Anderson.

The fire was discovered around 3:45 a.m. by a deputy who observed a glow southeast of Statesboro and rushed to the area, Anderson said.

The fire was ruled an arson, Insurance and Fire Commissioner John Oxendine said. He said the sanctuary, which is about 5,000 square feet, collapsed and heavy equipment may be necessary for investigators from the commissioner’s arson unit to continue work.

The church was established in 1892, making it one of the oldest churches in Bulloch County, said church records keeper Jeanette Turner. It had a congregation of between 150 and 175 members, she said.

Pastor Tim Huffingham said the church would rebuild.

Holcomb was scheduled for arraignment in Superior Court on Wednesday on previous felony charges of aggravated child molestation and aggravated sodomy, Anderson said. Additional charges were pending, the sheriff said.

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