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What began as a roughly quarter-acre brush fire spread to a large Mormon church in Glassell Park Tuesday, engulfing the building’s attic then quickly gutting a major portion of the structure.

The brush fire was initially reported at 2:38 p.m. at the Glendale (2) Freeway and North Verdugo Road, according to Margaret Stewart of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The fire spread to the eaves of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 3845 Fletcher Drive, and while firefighters initially appeared to have knocked back the flames, the blaze erupted in the building’s attic, sending heavy black smoke over the area.

Flames then burned through the roof, a portion of which collapsed and sent firefighters scrambling for ladders to get off the top of the structure. Fire crews then went into a defensive mode, pouring water on the blaze to drown the flames. Some flames spread to nearby palm trees.

One firefighter suffered a minor injury to an “extremity,” according to the fire department. It appeared as if he was injured on a hand or arm.

About 185 firefighters were sent to the scene. Two lanes of the southbound 2 Freeway were closed while fire crews battled the blaze.

Once the flames were largely quelled, crews conducted salvage operations with the help of church officials to help recover documents or valuables from inside the structure.

James Jenks, a former bishop of the church, told ABC7 more than 1,000 people attended services at the building, and it’s unclear where they will go.

“I’m anticipating that we’ve lost, probably a total loss here,” Jenks told the station. “It started down on the end where we have our kitchen and some of our classrooms. It did not reach the actual chapel or sanctuary itself.”

He said the church opened in 1991.

“I feel extreme sadness now,” he said. “I was the bishop at the time we built this. A lot of preparation, a lot of effort, a lot of money involved in this.”

Wire reports

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