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Suspicious fire damages Boyle Heights church

A Catholic church in the 3300 block of Opal Street was damaged in a fire early Thursday morning. The Los Angeles Fire Department said crews were able to keep the blaze out of the sanctuary.

A Boyle Heights church was damaged in a fire early Thursday, and arson investigators are working to determine the cause, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The blaze at Resurrection Catholic Church in the 3300 block of Opal Street was reported at 2:05 a.m. and was primarily contained to the first floor of the two-story church. Sixty-two firefighters knocked down the fire in 26 minutes, according to the fire department.

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“Firefighters were able to prevent it from extending to the sanctuary area,” said Margaret Stewart, an LAFD spokeswoman.

There were no injuries reported. Video from OnScene.TV showed stone statues in front of the church toppled over.

LAFD Capt. Erik Scott said the blaze burned only the front portion of the church and a vestibule.

The House of Worship Task Force — consisting of the LAFD, Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — will investigate, as is standard with church fires, Scott said.

“They’re combing through debris. They’re looking at burn patterns. And we are determining exactly what had sparked this suspicious blaze that does contain vandalism,” Scott said in a video posted to his Twitter account.

Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, who met Monsignor John Moretta and investigators on Thursday, said authorities and city officials are dedicated to helping the church.

“I assured Monsignor Moretta that we will do everything in our power to help them rebuild and come back stronger than ever,” Huizar said in a statement. “Monsignor Moretta and Resurrection Church have led so many battles to help Boyle Heights. We stand ready to return the favor.”

Authorities also are searching for those responsible for setting fire to a 129-year-old Pasadena church earlier this month.

Vandals broke into Church of the Angels, an Episcopal Church on Avenue 64, before sunrise on Jan. 13 and lit a fire in the sanctuary, using prayer books and hymnals as kindling, said the Rev. Robert Gaestel, the church’s rector. They also used green spray paint to deface a statue of an angel outside and to write the words “Jehovah Lives” and an Old Testament verse, 2 Kings 19:35, about the killing of Assyrians.

The graffiti at Church of the Angels resembled messages left on several other churches that were vandalized in recent months, including an Assyrian church in San Fernando and three churches in West Covina.

1:15 p.m. This article was updated with a statement from Councilman Jose Huizar.

12:35 p.m. This article was updated with information from LAFD Capt. Erik Scott.

This article was originally published at 6:50 a.m.

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