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Two missing in tragic fire

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LIMA, Peru — A pair of Church members are missing and believed dead following a huge fire that erupted Dec. 29 in a downtown district of this city. Authorities say 274 people died in the blaze.

The names of the missing members — both young women believed to be in their 20's — have not been announced.

No LDS missionaries were harmed in the fire that began in a commercial area packed with holiday shoppers and sidewalk vendors. The residence of one member family was destroyed in the blaze.

One of the missing Church members reportedly had been called to serve a full-time mission and was in the district shopping for missionary items when the blaze began.

Peruvian officials believe a large firecracker, lit apparently as a test on a street, ignited dozens of nearby fireworks stands. The ensuing fire torched four blocks of tenements and shopping galleries in less than five minutes, according to the Associated Press.

Peruvians use fireworks to celebrate Christmas, New Year's Day and other holidays and festivals.