[Updated] A 129-year-old, strikingly beautiful West Pasadena church suffered major damage and the loss of at least one significant historical statue after a vandal or vandals broke in early Saturday morning, spray painted graffiti, destroyed property and set fire to the structure.
Although the fire was quickly extinguished by the Los Angeles City Fire Department, the Church of the Angels, at 1100 Avenue 64, suffered major damage from the assault, Pasadena Fire Dept. spokesperson Lisa Derderian said.
The fire was reported by a 911 caller in the neighborhood who saw smoke at about 2:20 a.m. A Los Angeles Fire Dept. spokesperson said 41 firefighters knocked down the blaze in 14 minutes.
The reporting party lives in the Los Angeles city jurisdiction “because this church is right on the border, so L.A. City Fire responded … notified our battalion chief because it was determined” later that the church is situated in the city of Pasadena, Derderian said.
“Very sad as far as the historical significance,” Derderian said, noting in particular the damage to “a statue that’s solid oak that was built with the original church in 1889.”
Derderian said a joint arson task force comprised of investigators from the Pasadena Fire department and neighboring jurisdictions will be handling the investigation.
“Notifications will be made to other agencies depending if the need exists to escalate to a state or federal level because it is a church,” she said.
Investigators will be on scene with police most of Saturday, Derderian said.
“Once day breaks we hope to get more information, to see if there were security cameras in that location because there are homes right across the street,” she said.
Derderian said the beautiful church is frequently used as a filming location and had in fact been scheduled for a shoot today, which has now been canceled.
She said the church’s ministry hopes to complete temporary repairs in time for services this Sunday.
Church officials said on Facebook they “are very grateful for the swift response of fire personnel. Today is for assessment and clean up, but we plan to be open for our 7:45 and 10:15 a.m. services tomorrow, and would love to see you.”
There is no estimate as to the value of the damages at this time.
There were no reported injuries.