Brush Fire Burns Church in Glassell Park

(FOX11) - Skyfox was overhead as flames devoured the attic of a Mormon church in Glassell Park Tuesday. More than 187 firefighters fought the blaze with everything they had in an effort to save the building

"We were trying to get at it from the inside that's when the fire got a lot of extra air. It became overwhelming for us firefighters on the inside. We retreated to an outside position," LA City Fire Captain Daniel Curry said.

Shortly after they retreated the roof collapsed inward. Two firefighters were transported to a hospital with minor injuries.

The blaze was first reported as a brush fire along the Glendale Freeway and North Verdugo Road around 2:30 in the afternoon and spread to church. Neighbors and church members watched as it happened.

Rouget Verione says he lives near church. He was worried it would spread to his home. "When I looked out the window. I saw these gigantic flames, maybe 30 yards above the trees and a 60 yard spread. I couldn't believe it," Verione said.

Carlos Diaz is the Bishop of the church known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints "It's really sad news. I grew up in here so I know this building really well. It's a real tragedy," Diaz said.

The building is about 25-years-old and home to nearly 1000 members. All services are in Spanish.

Maria Rodriguez has been going here for 10 years.

Through tears she says "there isn't going to be a church to come to, that belongs to us. This is where we've come"

A few paintings were rescued from the fire, members saying its a sign God is with them.

Members met outside he church tonight and say hey plan to continue their worship in a nearby building.

The cause of the initial brushfire is under investigation.

The brush fire was initially reported at 2:38 p.m. at the Glendale (2) Freeway and North Verdugo Road, according to Margaret Stewart of the Los
Angeles Fire Department.

The fire spread to the eaves of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 3845 Fletcher Drive, and while firefighters initially appeared to have knocked back the flames, the blaze erupted in the building's attic, sending heavy black smoke over the area.

Flames then burned through the roof, a portion of which collapsed and sent firefighters scrambling for ladders to get off the top of the structure. Fire crews then went into a defensive mode, pouring water on the blaze to drown the flames. Some flames spread to nearby palm trees.

One firefighter suffered a minor injury to an "extremity," according to the fire department. It appeared as if he was injured on a hand or arm.
About 185 firefighters were sent to the scene. Two lanes of the southbound 2 Freeway were closed while fire crews battled the blaze.

Once the flames were largely quelled, crews conducted salvage operations with the help of church officials to help recover documents or valuables from
inside the structure.

James Jenks, a former bishop of the church, more than 1,000 people attended services at the building, and it's unclear where they will go. "I'm anticipating that we've lost, probably a total loss here," Jenks told the station. "It started down on the end where we have our kitchen and some of our classrooms. It did not reach the actual chapel or sanctuary itself."

He said the church opened in 1991. "I feel extreme sadness now," he said. "I was the bishop at the time we built this. A lot of preparation, a lot of effort, a lot of money involved in this."

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