Echo Park church fire may be arson
Early- morning blaze nearly destroys 100- year- old building that served mostly ethnic groups.
A 100- year- old building in Echo Park that served as a home for mostly ethnic religious groups was nearly destroyed in an early- morning f ire that may have been intentionally set, officials said.
Forerunners for Christ church had been hosting services and religious groups in the building in the 1600 block of North Morton Avenue for seven years and had become a part of the community.
So it came as a shock to some Monday that the church may have been targeted.
“Why? Why?” asked senior pastor Linda Cruz.
Officials said the fire was reported shortly before 2: 30 a. m. Flames were seen on the church’s porch before sweeping into the attic, said Brian Humphrey, spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Firefighters put out the blaze before it spread to the rest of building. No one was injured.
Investigators determined that it may have been intentional, Humphrey said. Local, state and federal investigators with the National Church Arson Task Force, established in 1996, were called in.
In Los Angeles, most church f ires are started by an unattended candle or during a burglary, Humphrey said.
Cruz said she had gone through every possible scenario for what could have led to Monday’s f ire, but none made any sense.
The church hosts two Latino groups as well as 50 to 60 regular parishioners who are mostly Filipino, Samoan and black, she said.
Parishioners are upset, she said, but the church will persevere.
Her message to the f ire starter: “We forgive him for whatever reason he did it.”