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Church Services Press On After Fire Rips Through 98-Year-Old Church In Watts

February 6, 2022

WATTS (CBSLA) — Investigators Sunday were trying to determine the cause and culprits responsible for starting a fire at a nearly 100-year-old church in the Watts area.

Flames ripped through St. John’s United Methodist Church on Saturday, burning pews, causing visible smoke damage on the tower, and other noticeable damage to both the exterior and interior of the building.

For more than an hour, 70 firefighters fought to put out the fire at the church, which was vacant at the time. The fire quickly spread to the lower level and the sanctuary. The cause of the fire remains unknown but is under investigation, with suspicion of arson.

Witnesses say they saw someone smoking in front of the church just before the house of worship started to burn.

Until repairs are made as a result of the fire, the church services were expected to be held in the parking lot. Church trustees worked into the night to board up the front of the church.

“God, we just thank you that no one was hurt,” one of the members said during a morning prayer outside of St. John’s, which has been a staple of the Watts community for 98 years.