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First Presbyterian Church engulfed in flames, resulting in structural damage

2 historic churches in Douglas destroyed in fire
Posted at 6:36 PM, May 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-23 21:38:39-04

DOUGLAS, Ariz. — In the early morning hours on Tuesday, flames reignited inside of First Presbyterian Church in Douglas.

The fire caused the roof to collapse and left some structural damage, but no one was inside the church at the time the fire started. Police on the scene notified the fire department when smoke started inside.

“This church is one of the icon churches that you’ve probably heard of—the four churches on the corners, and now two of them are gone. So it’s distressing,” said Susan Kramer, a member of the First Presbyterian Church congregation.


Douglas Fire Public Information Officer, Matt King said the fire wasn't a new fire, but was a change in fire activity from yesterday.


First Presbyterian was the second church on the block to sustain structural damage from a fire in less than 24 hours.
The fires began Monday morning just before 11 a.m. when smoke was first seen at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church— located at the corner of D Avenue and 11th Street. Three structures belonging to the church were burned and have significant damage.

Community members are entering the area to see the damage of the two historic buildings.

Both churches are more than 100 years old have held memories for many members of the Douglas Community. Kramer has been a member of the Presbyterian Church for 26 years, which makes seeing the damage even harder to process.

Even though it’s been less than 48 hours since the fires began, the community is already brainstorming how to help the churches and their congregations. Pastor David Gonzalez of First Baptist Church — which neighbors First Presbyterian — said he is already in communication about how they can help and is seeing if they have a space on the property the congregations can use.

“We want them to know we are here for them,” said Gonzalez. “Nobody wants to see these historic buildings go up the way they did. And I think it is, uh, an immediate instinct for a small community to come together and kinda rally around each other.”

Federal authorities and Douglas Fire were on scene most of the day Tuesday investigating what caused the fires. It could take days before the investigation is complete.

Alexis Ramanjulu is a reporter in Cochise County for KGUN 9. She began her journalism career reporting for the Herald/Review in Sierra Vista, which she also calls home. Share your story ideas with Alexis by emailing or by connecting on Facebook.