LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A fire gutted a church in Leimert Park early Friday morning.
The fire broke out around 1:50 a.m. at the Bethesda Temple Apostolic Church at 4909 Crenshaw Boulevard in South Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Fire Department said.
When fire crews arrived, 50-foot flames could be seen coming from the structure. Firefighters had to attack the blaze in a defensive mode, dousing it with water from the outside.
“There was such a significant fire inside that the wooden chairs are completely gone,” LAFD Cpt. Jamie Moore told KNX 1070′s Jon Baird.
It took 80 firefighters approximately 50 minutes to extinguish the fire.
“It really hurts. It’s a hard thing to see. I’ve been here since the church’s inception, the church is 25 years old and the Lord has blessed us tremendously. It’s hard to see,” Minister Trent Jackson said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation by the House of Worship Task Force, an arson unit made up the LAFD, the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department. An arson dog is also assisting the task force to determine if an accelerent was used.
Authorities have determined that the fire is not suspicious in nature.
Officials have closed one block of Crenshaw Boulevard from 50th Street to Westmount for the investigation.