Los Angeles County firefighters put out a blaze at a house next to a church in South Los Angeles Monday morning. The house was set to become the church's new mentor center for parolees and veterans. Arson investigators arrive looking for clues to a cause. Reggie Kumar reports from South Los Angeles for the NBC4 news at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 30, 2013.
An arson investigation was underway after a fire burned down a new mentoring center belonging to a South Los Angeles church on Monday.
Flames ripped through the house at 110th Street and Vermont Avenue, destroying a new transitional housing facility recently created by the Manoah Church of God, in Westmont, west of the 110 Freeway and north of the 105 Freeway.
Firefighters kept the flames from spreading to the adjoining decades-old church and knocked down the fire in about 20 minutes, but not before the church’s tangible plan to help those in need was destroyed.
"We had negotiated contracts, and everything was falling into place for us," said church member Mary Anderson.
The plan for the facility was to help parolees and veterans transition back into a daily routine with the help of the church.
One such person who would have used the facility is church member Abdul Haraway, who just got out of prison about a year ago.
"The goal is to bring it back to life," Haraway said. "The community doesn’t have enough opportunities where we can help one another."
Los Angeles County fire and sheriff’s officials said the fire was being investigated as "suspicious," and arson investigators were still on scene well into the late afternoon.
"It’s pretty heavy to know that someone would do this, especially to a church," said Pastor Andrew Anthony, who says he is relieved the flames didn’t spread to the main church building.
"But even though this part of the building did burn down, it didn’t touch the important part. We want to thank God for that."
No one was injured in the fire.
To make a donation for the Manoah Church of God’s rebuilding of its mentoring center, call 562-443-7626 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.