(photo courtesy of CBS local)
(photo courtesy of CBS local)

Two churches, one in South Los Angeles and a second nearby in the unincorporated Florence-Graham area of Los Angeles County, caught fire early morning on July 9, and authorities said the first blaze was arson. The first fire inside the Starlight Church of God in Christ at 8518 S. San Pedro St. was reported at 12:27 a.m., said Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Tom Sammartano. The church was built in 1925 and has a total of 5,848 square feet, according to Internet property records.

Fire department arson investigators told reporters at the scene the fire was arson but the church was not the target. The arson resulted from a dispute with someone inside the building, according to arson investigators. Arson inspector David Liske said the House of Worship Task Force, a multi-agency law enforcement unit, was dispatched to the scene because it was a church fire.

Firefighters knocked down the flames in 14 minutes, and no injuries were reported, according to Sammartano. No damage estimate was immediately available. The second church fire was determined to be accidental. It was reported at the Greater Evangelist Prayer Center Church of God in Christ at 8314 Compton Ave. at 1:02 a.m., said Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Ray Dong.

The church on Compton Avenue is a few miles from the earlier church fire on San Pedro Street. The building is 2,849 square feet, according to Internet property records. The county fire department dispatched about 25 firefighters to the second fire scene, Dong said. A knockdown was declared at 1:16 a.m., and no injuries were reported, he said.

“The cause of the fire was determined to be accidental,” Dong said. No details on how the fire started were immediately available. A damage estimate on the second blaze was not available.