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Leimert Park church fire causes extensive damage

April 26, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A fire broke out early Friday morning at Bethesda Temple Apostolic Church in Leimert Park. Investigators are now working to find out what sparked the fire.

Flames erupted around 1:45 a.m. on the 4900 block of Crenshaw Boulevard. The fire spread to the second floor to the choir room and some offices. Crews said they were able to protect the main office, so all of the church records are OK.

It took 80 firefighters about 50 minutes to knock down the flames. No injuries were reported.

"Our firefighters did an incredible job protecting the office area and the office records," said Capt. Jaime Moore with the Los Angeles Fire Department. "Unfortunately, we did have a significant loss to the actual structure. It has been deemed a total loss. From the outside it doesn't look too bad ... but the inside has had significant impact."

The cause of the blaze was under investigation, but firefighters believe it may have started in the sanctuary. The church was deemed a total loss.

"All the chairs are gone, there's nothing, it's an empty room. Even the organ, everything is gone," said parishioner Shirley Green.

Green, who lives across the street, says she was at the church for choir practice just hours before it erupted in flames.

"We all could have been in there, so nobody was in the church, which was a blessing," she said.

Arson investigators were called to the scene. Fire officials say the fire does not appear to be criminal in nature, and there are no signs of foul play at this time. The pastor of the church, Ernest Alexander, says he will continue services at another location until the church is rebuilt.

"It is what it is," Alexander said. "We had a beautiful church, and we'll have to try to put it back together."


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