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Sunday morning fire damages Hillcrest preschool at LGBT-friendly church

SAN DIEGO -- A fire early Sunday caused about $100,000 in damage at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Hillcrest, the San Diego Fire Department said.

While no major buildings were affected, a large wooden outdoor play structure burned, causing damage to the play yard at the Unitarian Cooperative Preschool, located on the church grounds. The fire was reported around 3 am and was extinguished within 20 minutes.

The cause of the fire is unknown, although some media are reporting that it is being investigated as an arson. Some church staff members, however, said that the fire may have been set off accidentally by someone trying to keep warm.

Robbie Evans, the church's director of operations, released a statement Sunday:

"As Director of Operations for this church, I would just like to report that there was no damage to any preschool buildings, just the last playyard. There was some damage to a maintenance room adjacent to the preschool. No one was injured. The fire department did an outstanding job (thank you to all who responded) and they are now investigating the cause of the fire. A great big thank you to an anonymous neighbor who called the fire department."

Evans said that the church has insurance coverage, so the damage will most likely be covered by the policy.

The First UU Church considers itself a "welcoming congregation," open to people of all ages, abilities, races, ethnicities, gender identities, family structures, sexual orientation and faith backgrounds. The church has a sizable membership from the LGBT community, and numerous LGBT organizations use the church facilities, including PFLAG and the San Diego Women's Chorus.

Church services carried on as scheduled Sunday morning, and preschool classes are in session.