Ryah Cooley

Arson suspected in fire at Manhattan Beach church

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Firefighters from Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach responded to the fire at Journey of Faith Church on Tuesday night. Arson is the suspected cause of the fire. Photo by Ryah Cooley, staff.

Firefighters from Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach responded to the fire at Journey of Faith Church on Tuesday night. Arson is the suspected cause of the fire. Photo by Ryah Cooley, staff.

Arson is suspected after a fire broke out in two different parts of the Journey of Faith Church building on Artesia Boulevard in Manhattan Beach on Tuesday night.

According to fire department reports, a woman from the night cleaning crew at the church reportedly smelled smoke and when she went to investigate, she saw a man standing just inside the main building at the time of the fire. Upon seeing her, the man ran out of the building towards the parking lot, according to her account.

The man is described as being white and between the ages of 45 to 50 years old. He is reportedly between 5 feet, 10 inches and 6 feet tall and weighs between 200 to 250 pounds. He has gray hair and was seen wearing a red buttoned down shirt and khaki colored dockers.

After ruling out accidental causes, Manhattan Beach Fire Department Battalion Chief Ken Shuck said investigators suspect the cause of the fire is arson.

The MBFD received a call on a fire alarm at the church at 11:16 p.m. last night. Sixteen firefighters from Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach  responded to the incident. Manhattan Beach police secured the perimeter of the church as firefighters entered and found that a fire sprinkler system had extinguished a fire in one part of the building. The other fire in the building had burned itself out.

“This would have been a much more complicated and dangerous job without built-in fire suspension,” Shuck said.

No injuries were reported.

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