Update: Orosi Church Fire

Orosi, CA, USA The fire broke out at the Iglesia de la Comunidad on Eddy and Miller in Orosi around 12:30am Monday morning. Over 40 firefighters from neighboring cities and counties all pitched in but their efforts couldn't save the beloved building.

As flames ripped through the Orosi community church, churchgoers cried and prayed but the fire was too much. The bell tower collapsed and 42 firefighters could only pour water on the burning church from the outside. "We're not going to be able to put firefighters inside," said Kim Pennington with the Tulare County Fire Department.

The historic church, over 100 years old, was once the Orosi First Baptist Church before a Spanish-speaking congregation took over.

The Tulare County Sheriff's Department questioned then arrested this suspect for arson. Some witnesses told investigators they saw him setting fire to the church. But Monday morning, church members said they're filled with compassion, not anger, for the suspect who was often seen walking by the church, yelling and cursing.

"After last night, just thinking about it, just thinking about the bondage that he's in, so even we have to become strong for him, and show him there is forgiveness," said church Pastor Alfred de la Cerda.

Out of the ashes, the church is promising to rebuild, leaning on their faith and each other. "We gotta keep going. Because, I mean, nothing can stop us," said church member Joel Caballero.

The pastor told Action News Wednesday night service will go on as scheduled, even if he has to hold the service in the parking lot.

The fire caused a million dollars in damage to the sanctuary, but firefighters were able to save the church's adjacent office buildings and classrooms.


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