KGUN 9NewsLocal NewsDowntown Tucson News


Douglas Mayor Donald Huish on church fires: 'It does look suspicious'

ATF assisting with investigation
Posted: 5:10 PM, May 23, 2023
Updated: 2023-05-23 20:10:14-04

DOUGLAS, Ariz. (KGUN) — One day after fire damaged two historic churches—St. Stephen's Episcopal Church and First Presbyterian Church—in the city of Douglas, many were left expressing disbelief.

I spoke with Douglas Mayor Donald Huish this afternoon about how the community is doing after the church fires, and about the investigation underway into the origin of the fires.

"I will tell you, Pat, it does look suspicious at this point in time because it happened at next door churches, but in different spots."

Mayor Huish updated me during our call on the investigation into the fire—or fires—that heavily damaged two nearby churches along D Avenue in Douglas.

Crews battle flames on Monday, May 22 in Douglas, Ariz.

"We already have ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] on the ground looking at it for us," Huish says. "Pending their findings, we'll go from there."

Huish says while the investigation continues, his community is dealing with the potential loss of two churches.

"We're all heartbroken down here."

Huish tells me Monday's church fires happened in the area of town known as 'Church Square,' where there's a church on every corner of that one square block.


"It not only speaks to our faithfulness in God, but it also speaks to our diversity, that we have these many different churches in our community."

While Huish says this was a gut punch to the city of Douglas, the town is coming together to help these two churches in their time of need.

A Douglas firefighter removes mementos from a church fire Monday, May 22.

"They're very, very brokenhearted, but they're also very resilient. They've already started their talks on how can we rebuild."

Huish says he is especially heartbroken over the loss of several stained glass windows, which he says are irreplaceable.

ATF has confirmed with KGUN 9 that they are assisting Douglas Fire with the investigation.

Pat Parris is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9. He is a graduate of Sabino High School where he was the 1982 high school state track champion in the 800 meters. While in high school and college, he worked part-time in the KGUN 9 newsroom. Share your story ideas and important issues with Pat by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.