LOS ANGELES (AP) — Fire roared through a 19th century wooden church Tuesday and two firefighters had to be rescued when part of the historic structure collapsed while they were inside.
Two firefighters were taken to a hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries, said Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott. One of the men was in stable condition and would be held overnight for evaluation, while the other was expected to be released.
One firefighter was working on the second floor pulling hose for other firefighters when there was a loud cracking sound as the collapse occurred. The firefighter ended up down on the first floor among debris, fire Capt. Laurie Stolp told reporters.
A special team of firefighters rushed in, pulled him out and carried him down the front steps of the church.
Fire Department radios blared with urgent calls for engine crews to account for their members.
Fire Chief Brian Cummings said he was monitoring the fire by radio in his office when he heard of the structural collapse and that firefighters were unaccounted for.
"That's the worst thing that you can ever hear as a firefighter or a fire chief — to know that some of our own are in peril," he said.
The blaze was reported at midmorning at the Crouch Memorial Church of God and Christ, a white Romanesque Revival style building in the 27th Street Historic District.
The attic was well involved in fire when firefighters arrived.
Cummings said firefighters had mounted an aggressive interior attack when the collapse occurred.
After the rescue, firefighters continued the attack only from outside, shooting streams of water from hoses and cannons.
The church, built in 1895, was the center of the prohibition movement in the early 1900s, City News Service reported.
Hours after the initial call, smoke still wafted from the gutted ruins of the church, which had lost its steeply pitched roof, exposing a blackened interior. A several-story-tall bell tower still stood despite significant charring.