Riverside church to still hold Christmas Eve services after fire breaks out

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- With support from community members, a fire that broke out at a Riverside church will not stop Christmas Eve services from continuing Monday night.

The fire broke out shortly after 7 p.m. Sunday at Magnolia Presbyterian Church in the 7200 Magnolia Avenue.

The third-alarm blaze left the sanctuary damaged after an aggressive firefight that took crews a little over an hour to knock down, Riverside fire officials said.

There were no injuries in the incident, according to Riverside fire officials.

Firefighters said the fire started inside a room that contains an air compressor that powers the church organ. The cause of the fire, however, is still not known.

The historic church was formed in 1879, although the sanctuary is much newer.

One of the church pastors said a lot of history was lost in the fire, such as the baptismal font, which was built by a former pastor.

While the building still stands, the inside of the church is too damaged to hold a service. Still, church officials are making sure Christmas Eve services will happen, even if they're somewhere else.

"The building is gone but the church is still standing," said Pastor Claire Schlegel. "And I think that's a wonderful message because we are the church..."

The church leadership has decided to have services in their fellowship hall, which was the very first church on the property. Donations, such as poinsettia plants, have also been made by the community to help the church with its services.
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