Flames tore through a storefront church in Little Havana on Christmas Eve, authorities said.
Firefighters were called just before 8 p.m., and when they arrived at Ministerio Pentecostales Avivamiento de Cristo they found heavy smoke and heavy flames, Miami Fire-Rescue said.
Founding pastor Marlene Cruz choked back tears while talking about her church, which is in a strip mall at 1745 W. Flagler St., near NW 17th Avenue.
“I was actually raised in this church,” said her grandson, Christian Cruz. “My grandma started this from scratch. We started from our house to build this.”
Nobody was hurt in the fire, said Miami Fire-Rescue, which is investigating the cause. Other businesses in the strip mall were impacted as well, but the church bore the brunt of the fire.
“We found a heavy amount of fire in the middle of the building,” said Capt. Russell Abraira of Miami Fire-Rescue. “We started knocking down the flames. We knocked down the fire in about 30 minutes.”
Marlene Cruz founded the church about 18 years ago. About 20 church members came to the scene after the fire broke out Monday night.
While firefighters gathered up their equipment, Cruz led church members in a prayer circle on the sidewalk.
“It hurts to know that it’s Christmas and that this just happened in a blink of an eye,” Christian Cruz said. “And it hurts a lot. My grandma’s actually crying in the back.”