The Los Angeles City Fire Department battled a Major Emergency Structure Fire early Sunday morning, on Patriot Day, at the Victory Baptist Church. Intense fire weakened the structural supports and collapsed, trapping several firefighters and sending three to the hospital.
Approximately 150 firefighters were ultimately called to the 4800 block of South McKinley Avenue in the early morning hours of Sunday, September 11, 2022, where 9-1-1 callers had reported smoke coming from Victory Baptist Church. Crews initially made entry to find heavy smoke inside the structure. As firefighters made entry, inevitably introducing more air to the conditions inside, fire behavior worsened quickly.
Approximately 30 minutes after the arrival of firefighters, there was a structural collapse inside, trapping several LAFD members. Two consecutive mayday calls were put out on the radio alerting the fire ground of trapped firefighters. Nearby crews quickly effected a rescue of three firefighters. One was transported immediately to a local hospital in moderate condition, while a second finished battling the fire and was transported in fair condition after the flames were declared to be knocked down. The third followed up with care on his own after the incident.
After the interior collapse, crews withdrew into defensive operations, utilizing heavy streams from the exterior of the building. It took one hour and forty minutes to extinguish the flames. LAFD Heavy Equipment was called out to assist with moving debris to access hot spots. Crews will remain working throughout the day to continue uncovering smoldering debris in the rubble.
LAFD's House of Worship Task Force and Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section are working together to conduct the fire-cause investigation, which remains active. One suspect has been taken into custody and charged with arson of a structure.