LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Two Los Angeles City firefighters were injured Tuesday while battling a fire at a historic two-story church in South Los Angeles.
The fire at 1001 E. 27th Street, which was formerly known as the Crouch Memorial Church of God In Christ, was reported at 9:27 a.m., the Los Angeles Fire Department said.
Pastor Lawrence Magee told KCAL9′s Andrea Fujii the fire erupted shortly after he turned on the building’s recently repaired heater for the first time this year.
“I looked at the heater vent and smoke was coming out,” said Pastor Magee. Within minutes, fire overtook the church, he said.
Two of the 150 Los Angeles City firefighters on scene were injured when the wooden church’s roof and second story partially collapsed while they were performing an interior attack, according to officials.
“They heard a big loud crack and the roof caved in and he ended up on the first floor, just surrounded in debris,” Battalion Capt. Laurie Stolp said.
The injured firefighter was pulled to safety by a fellow crew member and the Rapid Intervention Company Team.
Both men were transported to California Hospital Medical Center and treated for non-life threatening injuries. One firefighter, listed in stable condition, will be hospitalized overnight. The second firefighter was treated and released.
All other firefighters were later accounted for, Scott said. A third firefighter later suffered a possible electric shock while on a ladder truck. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was treated and released.
The fire was extinguished around 1:15 p.m. and the church was deemed a total loss.
KNX 1070′s Vytas Safronikas reports the church was the center of the prohibition movement in Los Angeles in early 1900s.
“The history that’s lost and gone, you can’t replace that,” said Pastor Magee.
Key pieces of the 19th Century church were saved, including a 53-year-old organ. Pastor Magee said they will use it again when they rebuild.
“This church has been a landmark in this community for so many years; it’s just devastating for it to be to burn down like this,” parishioner Kevin Crouch said.
An LAFD arson team and the department’s House of Worship Task Force, which includes personnel from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, will investigate the cause of the fire.
The official cause of the fire was unknown.