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latest news Fire damages St. John’s United Methodist Church in Watts

A fire has burned down a nearly 100-year-old church in Watts for the second time in less than two years, prompting an arson investigation, authorities said.

The fire broke out in the sanctuary of St. John’s United Methodist Church around 6:50 p.m. and spread to the balcony, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Officials said it took about 20 minutes for 32 firefighters to extinguish the flames at the two-story house of worship on the 1700 block of Santa Ana Boulevard. No injuries were reported.

An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the fire at the 2,000 square foot church, LAFD spokesman Brian Humphrey said.

“It’s obviously a priority to be a place of worship,” Humphrey said. “The only thing that has a higher priority is fatal fires.”

Saturday’s fire happened as St. John’s was undergoing major renovations following another fire that damaged it about 16 months ago.

In February 2022, a fire broke out near the church and spread through the sanctuary. Photos taken in the aftermath show blackened walls and scorched prayer books.

Worshipers moved services to the parking lot after the fire, where they were still being held over the weekend.

The church, built in the Spanish Colonial style with a red tiled roof and beige exterior, celebrates 97 years of ministry in the Watts community, according to its Facebook page.

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