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Suspicious Fire Burns Through South LA Church

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Los Angeles, CA -

(FOX 11 / CNS) A greater-alarm fire regarded as suspicious gutted a South Los Angeles church this morning, but no one was injured, authorities said.

The fire at the Bethesda Temple Apostolic Church at 4909 Crenshaw Blvd. in the Hyde Park district was reported at 1:54 a.m., said Katherine Main of the Los Angeles Fire Department. Eighty firefighters responded and had the blaze knocked down in 50 minutes, she said.

The fire forced crews into a defensive posture, meaning they could only fight it from the exterior, Main said. Crenshaw Boulevard was closed this morning between 50th Street and Westmount Avenue in South Los Angeles, said Main.

The cause of the fire was being investigated by the House of Worship Task Force, which is made up of representatives from the Los Angeles Police and Fire departments, the FBI and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said Los Angeles fire Capt. Jaime Moore.

A dog trained to sniff for accelerants was being brought to assist in the investigation, he said. But even before that probe began, Moore said there were indications that the blaze was suspicious.

The church has been a neighborhood fixture since it opened in 1952, Moore said.

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