More than 100 firefighters battled a major emergency fire at Victory Baptist Church in the South Park area of Los Angeles for one hour and 40 minutes on Sunday, September 11.
Firefighters were expected to remain on the scene for some time to pour water on hot spots and smoldering debris, said the Los Angeles Fire Department’s Nicholas Prange. The fire was reported at 2:22 a.m. at the two-story edifice, located at 4802 S. McKinley Ave., Prange said.
Firefighters ended the offensive battle and took up defensive positions outside the building after the interior structure collapsed, trapping multiple firefighters, he said. One firefighter was taken to a hospital by paramedics with moderate injuries while another injured firefighter was in fair condition and would seek follow-up treatment later.
The defensive fight was aimed at putting out the flames and protecting structures near the burning building. Video on the Citizen app showed flames lapping up through the roof of the church.
Arson investigators are closely examining the remains of the building to determine the cause of the fire. Also, the L.A. Times reported the involvement of the House of Worship Task Force, which is comprised of multiple agencies focused on identifying people who target churches in Los Angeles.
Victory Baptist has played an integral and historic role in South L.A. Many famous gospel artists appeared at the church and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached during a service in the 1960s.
Victory Baptist Pastor W. Edward Jenkins has vowed to continue the ministry despite the destruction of the edifice.
City News Service contributed to this report.