The fire that destroyed a Catholic church in Hacienda Heights Saturday was intentionally set, according to a sheriff's captain.
The blaze at St. John Vianney Catholic Church, 1345 Turnbull Canyon Road, was reported at 12:04 a.m. and burned for 2 1/2 hours, said sheriff's Lt. Joe Chavez.
The cause of fire was initially believed to be related to some ongoing construction, but investigators are now saying the fire was intentionally set.
“The extensive structure fire ... has been confirmed as an act of arson,” said Capt. Mike Parker of the Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau. “We are actively investigating to identify the suspect responsible.”
Parker said the Arson/Explosives Detail of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department will lead the investigation.
A priest was treated at the fire scene, possibly for smoke inhalation, but is expected to recover.
Peters said firefighters, who were unable to enter the church, used a “surround and drown” approach.
“It was a defensive fire, so they fought it from the outside,” he said. “No one went inside. It (the church) was totally engulfed.”
The blaze was declared out at 2:34 a.m.
Sheriff's Lt. Joe Chavez of the Industry Station estimated damage at $8 million.
Anyone with more information on the fire was asked to call sheriff's arson investigators at (323) 881-7500. Tips can be left anonymously by texting TIPLA, plus the information, to 274637, or via the Crime Stoppers website at crimestoppers.org