BOYLE HEIGHTS (CBSLA) – A suspicious fire tore through a nearly century-old church in Boyle Heights and some statues outside the church were vandalized early Thursday morning.

The fire broke out at around 2 a.m. at the two-story Resurrection Catholic Church located at 3324 E. Opal St. Witnesses called 911 reporting heavy smoke coming from the church, which was built in 1923.

Los Angeles Fire Department crews arrived to find flames emanating from the right side of the first floor of the building. It took firefighters about 26 minutes to bring the blaze under control. The damage was mostly confined to the first floor.

The sanctuary was not damaged and crews were able to salvage the church’s sacred items. There were no injuries.

Officials initially told CBS2 reporter Kandiss Crone that arson had been ruled out. However, Crone later reported that officials were investigating the fire as suspicious due to vandalism to statues outside the church. One statue was knocked down and another was painted green.

The fire is believed to have started in the candle room of the church. Candles were burning at the time, but they are designed to burn safely.

“They can burn overnight, but that’s per fire code,” Capt. Eric Scott told CBS2. “So, at this point, we’re looking at other potential causes. And again, due to the vandalism, this is deemed suspicious.”

The House of Worship Task Force – which is made up of several law enforcement agencies — will work to determine the exact cause.

A financial estimate of the damage was not confirmed.

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