SAN FRANCISCO—A fire started in a building adjacent to and associated with the St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church on September 17.

Dispatchers received reports of the fire at 70 Commonwealth Avenue around 4 a.m. The San Francisco Fire Department arrived shortly after and prevented the fire from spreading to the church. However, in an announcement to parishioners, the Very Reverend Father Smpad Saboundjian and church chairman Rostom Aintablian said “the building has suffered a great loss.”

According to Armenian community officials, the fire started in three places: the church’s Sunday school classrooms, the church office and the Hamazkayin Library. San Francisco Police and Fire departments are currently investigating the fire. 

According to the church’s announcement, the building housed the Vasbouragan Hall auditorium, offices for the church and other various organizations.  

Church leaders told Asbarez they suspect the fire is a form of harassment. In August, surveillance video caught suspects vandalizing the Krouzian-Zekarian Vasbouragan Armenian School and the adjacent community center with anti-Armenian, pro-Azerbaijani graffiti on Brotherhood Way. The San Francisco District Attorney considers the vandalism to be a hate crime.