Nine months after a mysterious fire ripped through Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, the historic church is still a mess.
The fire-blackened sanctuary walls hide behind layers of scaffolding. Pieces of peeling plaster remain. A temporary timber roof protects the 200-year-old interior from the elements, while a pair of scissor lifts shuffle around over the makeshift particle-board floors. Outside, contractors mill around the parish parking lot while the structure’s warped steel beams wait to be hauled away after being carefully unlodged over the course of weeks.
When the four-alarm fire struck in the predawn hours of July 11, 2020, destroying the mission’s roof and damaging most of its interior, mission officials and the local community were devastated.