BUNNELL, Fla. (October 29, 2023) Mayor Catherine Robinson was married there and three generations of her family were baptized at the First Baptist Church of Bunnell. What would later become The Flagler Playhouse is a landmark on Moody Boulevard. On Sunday night, it was a full court press to save the historic building as flames engulfed the main building.

Robinson was among the many gathered to watch as news spread of the tragedy underway.

Hours after the initial notification of the fire, crews from Flagler County, Palm Coast, Flagler Beach and Ormond Beach continued to battle the fire at the Flagler Playhouse.

“This is devastating for the City of Bunnell. This was a huge landmark. The First Baptist Church of Bunnell was certainly there.  I grew up going to that church. My mother and I got baptized in that church together when I was 19 years old. I got married the first time, 49 years ago and my children were baptized there. There’s a lot of history,” said Robinson.

Not the only one emotionally impacted by the loss, Flagler Playhouse President Jerri Berry watched in disbelief as the flames leaped from the roof.

“I received a call from one of the deputies, a little bit after 10 that there was a fire at the playhouse. I threw clothes on and got down here,” said Berry. “I’m devastated.”

The irony of the situation was not lost on Berry, who says the next play, titled, “The Play That Goes Wrong”, was up next on the season’s showbill, set to open on November 3, 2023.

Flagler County Fire Chief Michael Tucker was in charge of the scene briefing where responders from Flagler County, Palm Coast, Flagler Beach and Ormond Beach worked for more than three hours to extinguish the fire.

Flames erupted from the back of the Flagler Playhouse, working their way forward.

Tucker said people passing by reported flames on the backside of the building around 10:00 pm.

“We got on scene and the crews encountered heavy smoke conditions coming from the building. We made a quick attack on the front side of the building and from the side of the building. Once we got inside, the conditions deteriorated just that fast, so we had to evacuate the crews,” said Chief Tucker.


“It got some air and took off on us. The roof itself stayed intact for so long, it contained the heat so we couldn’t get water on the fire.”

On scene quickly, Tucker said crews were able to clear the buildings, ensuring no people were trapped inside.

“One of the nice parts about the system we have set up in Flagler County between us and the surroundings (areas) is we respond closest to these significant calls. We were quick to get a lot of resources on scene for this incident,” said Tucker.

Fire crews established a perimeter and power was turned off in the area as crews worked to extinguish the fire at the Flagler Playhouse on October 29, 2023.

Mostly contained, crews entered the building at 1:30 a.m. to continue putting out flames.

“It’s going to be under investigation for a while. We have contacted the state fire marshal and asked them to come in and lead the investigation on this. This is more their expertise,” said Tucker.

A member of the state’s fire marshal’s office arrived on scene in the early hours of Monday morning.

Read more history on the Flagler Playhouse here: https://www.news-journalonline.com/story/news/local/flagler/2017/08/09/growth-is-thing-for-flagler-playhouse/19725374007/

Bunnell Mayor Catherine Robinson and City Manager Dr. Alvin Jackson watch from the corner.