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Firefighters Battle Blaze At Century-Old Riverside Church

RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) — A blaze caused significant damage to the sanctuary of a church in Riverside Sunday night.

Riverside Fire Department crews responded to Magnolia Presbyterian Church at 7200 Magnolia Avenue shortly after 7:15 p.m. to find plumes of black smoke billowing into the sky.

Firefighters Battle Blaze At Centuries-Old Riverside Church
Firefighters battle a blaze at the Magnolia Presbyterian Church in Riverside, Calif. Dec. 23, 2018. (CBS2)

The fire tore through the sanctuary, causing considerable damage near the stage area. Shattered glass could be seen from where the fire busted out the front windows. It took crews about one hour to extinguish the blaze.

No other structures were damaged, including the original church, a separate building which was built in 1881, according to Magnolia's website.

"I'm in total shock, you don't expect something like this to happen at your church," Elder Brian Nelson said. "I've been here about 30 years, and it's almost a surreal experience."

However, Nelson told CBS2 he was grateful the damage wasn't worse and that there were no injuries.

"There wasn't anybody hurt so we're very, very thankful for that," he said.

A nearby church has offered to host the candlelight service scheduled for Christmas Eve.

There is no word on the cause of the fire or a financial estimate of the damage.

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