Update: 3 firefighters hurt in fire at historic South LA church (Photos); pastor fears he started it

South LA Church Fire

Hayley Fox/ KPCC

At least one firefighter was rescued after he may have been trapped in a burning South L.A. church.

Crouch Memorial Church of God in Christ

Laurie Avocado/Flickr Creative Commons License

This photo from Flickr user Laurie Avocado shows what Crouch Memorial Church of God and Christ in South Los Angeles looked like before a fire engulfed the building and sent two firefighters to the hospital on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013.

Crouch Memorial

Hayley Fox/KPCC

A 3-alarm fire damaged the historic Crouch Memorial Church Tuesday.

Crouch Memorial

Hayley Fox/KPCC

Fire engines outside a 3-alarm blaze at Crouch Memorial Church in South L.A.


Authorities said three firefighters were injured — including two who were rescued after becoming trapped — while fighting a fire at a century-old wood frame church in Los Angeles. A fire department spokesman said the roof collapsed at Crouch Memorial Church of God and Christ in the 27th Street Historic District.

Updates:

Update 5:33 p.m. Third firefighter injured later

Several hours after the fire that burned down a historic South Los Angeles church and injured two firefighters, a third firefighter working outside the church was taken to a hospital for treatment of an injury described as not life-threatening, Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott told the Associated Press. There were no details on the cause.

Update 5:00 p.m. Church that burned had historical importance

The church that burned Tuesday morning has historical significance to Los Angeles and, more specifically, the African-American community.

“It’s certainly a centerpiece and an anchor to the 27th Street Historic District,” said Adrian Scott Fine, director of advocacy at the L.A. Conservancy.

The whole district, which is made up of dozens of Victorian-styled buildings and known for being a predominantly black neighborhood since 1923, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.

The church “has a long history of a number of congregations that have been housed within that building over the years,” Fine said. “Our main concern is it’s a very important building to the neighborhood, but also to all of Los Angeles. There aren’t a lot of buildings — certainly, early wood-framed church buildings of this type — left.”

Fine added that there was an effort in the city to make the location of the church a local historic district, in addition to being recognized nationally.

“It’s certainly a loss from multiple standpoints,” Fine said.

Ashley Bailey with Nuran Alteir

Update 11:52 am: Pastor says fire may have come from heater

 

A pastor at the Crouch Memorial Church of God and Christ told KPCC's Hayley Fox he saw smoke coming from a heating vent before he called 911. 

Pastor Lawrence Magee said he turned on the heater to see if it was working before morning prayers. He said it was working well.

"While I was praying, it got kind of warm, so I turned the heater off. But when I turned it off I could still hear the tweaking inside the vents, and noise, so I came outside to look. And I saw smoke coming out of the vent."

Magee said he called 911 immediately. The 66-year-old says he feels awful. 

"I feel terrible. I don't know what we're going to do," he said. "I'm devastated right now. But we'll make it. God is in control. " 

 

Update 11:29 a.m.: Both rescued firefighters remain in good condition

 
LA Fire Dept spokesman Armando Hogan updated reporters on the condition of the two firefighters rescued from a burning church Tuesday. 
 

"Our firefighter that was transported to the hospital earlier is resting comfortably, will be held overnight for observations," Hogan said. He clarified that the second firefighter is also at the hospital, though he went along for support.

"The other firefighter that was trapped went along with that firefighter just for support because they were both trapped together, worked together and just wanted to be there with that individual. So for the most part, we feel good about dodging that particular bullet." 

The two were rescued by a rapid response team after being trapped. Hogan said it looks as if a support beam may have collapsed onto them. 

Update 11:09 a.m.: Arson unit, task force investigating

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Fire Department says two firefighters seemed to be in good condition after being rescued from the burning church. 

Spokesman Armando Hogan told KPCC's Hayley Fox one firefighter was taken to an area hospital, the other remains at the scene of the fire: 

"One of the firefighters was taken to an area hospital. For the most part [he] was talking to us prior to leaving," Hogan said. "The other was assessed on scene and remains on scene."

Hogan added that a "House of Worship Task Force" involving the LAPD, FBI and arson investigators has been called in as a matter of protocol: 

"We want to make sure that we can rule out foul play," Hogan said. "Any time a church, house of worship, synagogue, anything like that is involved, we want to bring that group together to make sure we rule that out."

The fire has been knocked down, Hogan said.  

Updated 10:28 a.m.: 2 firefighters rescued

Authorities say emergency crews have rescued two firefighters who were trapped while fighting a fire at a century-old wood frame church in Los Angeles.

Fire Department spokesman Jaime Moore says the roof collapsed at the church on East 27th Street near Central Avenue south of downtown.

Television news images showed a male firefighter on a gurney being loaded into an ambulance. Moore says both injured firefighters were transported to a hospital in stable condition.

The white Romanesque Revival style building was fully engulfed.

The blaze was reported at 9:27 a.m. Tuesday at the Crouch Memorial Church of God and Christ in the 27th Street Historic District.

City News Service says the church, built in 1895, was the center of the prohibition movement in the early 1900s.

10:10 a.m.: Authorities say emergency crews have rescued a firefighter who may have been trapped while fighting a fire in a historic church in Los Angeles.

Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott told the Associated Press a part of the roof collapsed at the church on East 27th Street near Central Avenue south of downtown.

The church, built in 1895, used to be known as Crouch Memorial Church of God in Christ. It was the center of the prohibition movement in Los Angeles in early 1900s.

The blaze was reported at 9:27 a.m. Tuesday in a historic district.

27th Street NR Application 3-25-09

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