Flagler Playhouse Devastated by Overnight Fire

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At approximately 10:02 p.m. on the evening of Sunday, October 29, 2023, emergency units received a call regarding a structure fire at the Flagler Playhouse in Bunnell. Upon their arrival, the first responding teams were met with a distressing scene: thick, billowing black smoke emanating from the eaves of the building and an active fire in the rear section of the structure.

The flames rapidly spread into the attic space, prompting an ongoing, arduous battle by firefighters from Flagler County Fire Rescue, Palm Coast Fire Department, Flagler Beach Fire Department, and Ormond Beach Fire Department Station 92, who worked tirelessly throughout the night to contain the blaze. In a coordinated response, the Bunnell Police Department, Flagler County Emergency Management, and the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office provided invaluable logistical support on-site.

Flagler County Fire Chief Michael Tucker said crews initially attacked the fire from the inside but within 10 minutes the conditions deteriorated, and for safety reasons crews exited the building and went into defensive mode from the outside to contain the fire and prevent its spread.

“It took us about 6 hours to declare the fire ‘out,’” Tucker said.

There are four buildings on the property – two were destroyed, including the theater itself, and two were saved, including the offices.

On the morning of October 30, the fire had been successfully distinguished by firefighters. Officials are waiting on the arrival of the state fire marshal to begin their investigation into the fire’s origin.

Officials with the City of Bunnell issued the following statement: Due to the amount of water needed to put out the fire, residents and businesses in Bunnell may experience lower than usual water pressures.  While the Water Treatment Plant works to replenish the water supply, Bunnell water customers are asked to try to limit water usage today.

It’s worth noting that the Flagler Playhouse, a historical establishment with roots dating back to its construction in 1957, once served as the home of the First Baptist Bunnell.

The Flagler Playhouse had recently finalized plans for the premiere of its latest production, “The Play That Goes Wrong,” set for this Friday. However, the fate of this upcoming event and all future activities at the venue is now shrouded in uncertainty as the community eagerly anticipates an assessment of the damage’s magnitude.

This is an ongoing story. Stay tuned for updates.

By Kim Hunt

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