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UPDATE: Provo Tabernacle goes up in flames: Fund established to rebuild

PROVO, Utah (ABC 4 News) - A massive fire destroyed the LDS Tabernacle in downtown Provo early Friday morning.
Provo Tabernacle Fire (Brian Carlson, ABC 4 News)
Provo Tabernacle Fire (Brian Carlson, ABC 4 News)
PROVO, Utah (ABC 4 News) - A massive fire broke out Friday morning at the Provo Tabernacle.

A security guard working at the Tabernacle called in the fire to 911.  About 25 fire fighters and 3 ladder engines responded to the blaze.

The fate of the building was cast in the first minutes of the fire that kept Firefighters engaged throughout the day Friday and into Saturday. 

Firefighters arrived at 2:43 a.m.  The only hope for saving the structure built in 1883 was an interior attack.  But when they went into the tabernacle, they were pushed out by the already intense flames.  They reported that the fire was in the upper level and rafters at the western end of the building. 

Battalion commanders then made the decision to go into defensive mode.  That meant that they would stay on the outside, pour on water and watch.

Provo Fire Battalion Chief Lynn Scofield says because of how old the building is, and how many times it has been renovated, it made the fire very difficult to battle.  Scofield says there's a chance that the building will be a total loss.

The roof collapsed just before 6:00 a.m. leave the brick walls and a large pile of burning debris inside.

The Tabernacle is located on University Avenue between Center Street and 100 South.  The streets immediately adjacent to  the Tabernacle were closed all day Friday.

State and city fire marshals hoped to begin investigating the cause of the fire Saturday morning.

In the wake of the devastating fire, many gathered to watch, take pictures and share memories about the historic building.

Before the end of the day, a fund already had been established at Zions Bank to rebuild the tabernacle.  That fund is through the Provo Foundation.

Cory Norman, the executive director of the foundation said, "The tabernacle has so much history and perhaps this effort will help support the Church in whatever direction it decides to go while providing residents a chance and a mechanism to heal from this great loss."

Donations can be made at any branch of Zions Bank.

For additional information, click here.

TV crew loses cameras, concert venue moved

KBYU TV truck outside Provo Tabernacle fire (Tree Gore)
KBYU TV truck outside Provo Tabernacle fire (Tree Gore)
Provo Tabernacle fire (Joe Austin, ABC 4 News)
Provo Tabernacle fire (Joe Austin, ABC 4 News)
A KBYU TV crew was planning on recording the "Gloria" choir concert Friday night. On Thursday night the crew taped a dress rehearsal. One of the performers told ABC 4 News that KBYU had many large cameras inside, and had installed huge lights on the ceiling.

Some of the items burned in the fire include a large harp, and a grand piano and expensive percussion instruments.

By 8:00 a.m. the fire was mostly out, but fire fighters continued to put out some flare ups.

Firefighters did not try to enter the building after the roof collapsed. One fire official told ABC 4 News the building may be in such bad shape, it might have to be torn down later Friday afternoon or evening. The same fire official said the building would most likely be torn down Saturday morning.

A task force of fire investigators will begin looking into what caused the fire in the next few days, although one firefighter said the TV lights could possibly be a cause.

Scott Trotter, spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released the following statement regarding the fire:

"The fire at the Provo Tabernacle is tragic. The building not only serves our members and the community, but is a reminder of the pioneering spirit that built Utah. The damage appears severe, and until we make a structural assessment we won't know whether this historic treasure will be able to be saved."

The Provo Tabernacle was built in between 1883 and 1898. It has undergone several renovations over the years, while housing numerous, stake and regional conferences and musical performances.

Lex de Azevedo's Millennium Choral Society was scheduled to open its "Gloria" Christmas concerts beginning on Friday night at the Tabernacle and through the weekend. Those performances have been moved to the Alpine Tabernacle in American Fork on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. An additional Performance was also scheduled for the UVU McKay Event Center on Sunday at 7:30 p.m.

Stay tuned to ABC 4 News and ABC4.com for more on this story.

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