Work underway to repair roof of historic San Gabriel Mission after devastating fire

SAN GABRIEL, Calif. (KABC) -- Work to replace the burned out roof of the nearly 250-year-old San Gabriel Mission has begun with hopes of having the iconic Southland landmark ready for its 250th anniversary celebration in September.

A fire ripped through the mission last July, destroying the roof and severely damaging what is the oldest building in Los Angeles County.

The San Gabriel Mission was built in 1771 and is known as the fourth of California's historic missions.

The cause of the fire still has not been determined, but mission officials say insurance has been covering the repairs, though not the many upgrades that are needed to bring the building up to date. But crews are busy working on the building's roof as the next step in reopening the mission to the public.

"Once we have put the roof on, then the interior will be tackled," said Terri Huerta, the mission's communications director. "It is my hope that we will have the gift shop and a partial tour experience open more than likely (toward) the end of August."

Fortunately, the mission's famed bell tower escaped serious damage, as did most of the priceless artifacts that call the mission home. Huerta says they were relocated for renovations right before the fire.

"Everything inside the mission had been removed, placed in storage," she told Eyewitness News. "This was all in anticipation of the 250th anniversary."

That 250th anniversary is slated to be celebrated on Sept. 11.

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