Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Tree crashes on L.A. church during windstorm

October 28, 2009 |  9:27 am

Strong winds blew a 90-foot-high pine tree into a South Los Angeles church, yanking power lines that caused arcs of electricity to fly into the air as it crashed into the roof.

Church2 The sparks Tuesday night caught the attention of a Pilgrim Community Church member, who immediately called Pastor John Davis.

“I thought the church was burning up,” Davis said.

But when he arrived at the church on Wadsworth Avenue, he saw the top half of the tree smashed into the roof.

“I had mixed feelings," Davis said. "I was happy it wasn’t on fire, but when I saw the damage that the tree had caused, I was sad.”

Davis said about 25 church members meet around this time each year to begin planning for holiday events. The group often meets Tuesdays at 6 p.m., right around the time the tree fell. By chance, the group had met the previous Tuesday, which meant no one was inside when the tree came crashing down.

A house next to the church also was damaged, and Red Cross officials told the occupants they should stay somewhere else, Davis said.


Pilgrim Community Church just celebrated its 61st anniversary Oct. 6, and had planned to hold a Bible study there tonight. Instead, they will meet in one of their sister churches, he said.

The estimated cost of repairing the damage was unknown, but Davis said it could range from $50,000 to $60,000.

The Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety has red-tagged the building, meaning it is unsafe for occupancy.

Christine Smith has attended the church for 45 years.

“It’s been a blessing to have a church like this in the neighborhood,” Smith said. “The church has been a blessing for many people. I hope it will be back soon to raise the name of the Lord.”

-- Ruben Vives

Photos: Odie Peterson, top, sweeps up pine needles after a large branch from a pine tree in her front yard broke and fell across her yard and crushed the Pilgrim Community Church next door in South Los Angeles. At right, the front door area of the church. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

More breaking news in L.A. Now:

Three new swine flu vaccine clinics open today in L.A. County

Bay Bridge closure causes nightmare commute as engineers try to determine why rod snapped

Sex chat number accidentally printed on O.C. elementary school shirts

As war drags on, so does the battle against roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan

High winds expected to diminish

Outrage over gang rape of 15-year-old girl; more arrests made overnight