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Historic California church burned in fire has temporary roof

December 3, 2020 GMT
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A 249-year-old Southern California church that was badly damaged in a fire has a temporary roof to protect the historical building as it awaits a year-long restoration, seen in San Gabriel, Calif., Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. Wood and a waterproof membrane are covering the San Gabriel Mission east of Los Angeles. The Roman Catholic mission, built in 1771, caught fire on July 11, and flames destroyed the roof, warped steel earthquake retrofitting beams and badly damaged the interior. (Dean Musgrove/The Orange County Register/SCNG via AP)
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A 249-year-old Southern California church that was badly damaged in a fire has a temporary roof to protect the historical building as it awaits a year-long restoration, seen in San Gabriel, Calif., Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. Wood and a waterproof membrane are covering the San Gabriel Mission east of Los Angeles. The Roman Catholic mission, built in 1771, caught fire on July 11, and flames destroyed the roof, warped steel earthquake retrofitting beams and badly damaged the interior. (Dean Musgrove/The Orange County Register/SCNG via AP)

SAN GABRIEL, Calif. (AP) — A 249-year-old Southern California church that was badly damaged in a fire has a temporary roof to protect the historical building as it awaits a year-long restoration.

Wood and a waterproof membrane are covering the San Gabriel Mission east of Los Angeles.

“With the rainy season right around the corner, it was important to protect the mission,” Adrian Marquez Alarcon, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times.

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The church, established in 1771, was the fourth in a string of Roman Catholic missions established across California by Junipero Serra during the era of Spanish colonization. It caught fire on July 11 as the adobe, brick and stone structure was in the midst of a renovation to mark its upcoming 250th-anniversary celebration.

The flames burned away the wooden roof, warped steel beams installed during an earthquake retrofit in the 1990s and caused interior damage, although the altar was spared.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Restoration will be completed by November, according to the firm involved. There was no immediate word on the cost but about $400,000 has been raised.

“You’ll know we’ve done a good job and everything goes well if we’re able to make the San Gabriel Mission look exactly like it did before the fire — like nothing happened,” Reuben Lombardo told the Times. He is a senior estimator at Pomona-based Spectra Co., which will be working with the architectural firm Melvyn Green & Associates.