Photo by Bryan Donoghue

Church doors mysteriously catch fire


By| Bryan Donoghue

A fire sparked on the doorstep to the Arcata Presbyterian Church on G Street and 11th last night, and at the moment, it’s a mystery as to how it began.

“All I can really give you right now is that we’ve had a fire it’s suspicious in nature it is out we have confirmed that the building is no longer in danger, that’s why we’ve been sending resources home and right now we’re coordinating an investigation with Arcata Police,” Chief Rene Campbell, director of Division 1 for the Arcata Fire District said. File_002.jpeg

According to Campbell, the firefighters on the scene were very aggressive in dealing with the fire and were first on the scene, just in time to contain it.

“Obviously this is not only a significant historic piece in our community but a very large building could be very dangerous,” Campbell said.

Thankfully, the Arcata Fire District received plenty of support. Neighboring agencies joined in to help at a crucial moment to contain the fire.

“We went big on this just because of the building it was,” Campbell said, “We had every department basically around us coming in immediate need.”

“Great coordination and teamwork by our Fortuna ECC, the command center, the dispatch, units that were listening to the scanner were gearing up, so I mean just everyone did their job tonight and I’m thankful for that,” Campbell said.

The elders of the church watched from Wells Fargo on the other side of G Street as the fire crew went in and out of the building.

“We’re elders for the church, we’ve been with the church for years,” said Stephanie Witzel, treasurer for the church. “There’s a few of us down here from the church so we’re just down here to see it, and thinking about how to secure the building.”

“We’re just thankful that this is all that happened,” said Joan Tempas, the Clerk of Session for the church. “It’s always a concern because of people that sleep in and out, and around the church and stuff, and just always being aware that the church is 100 years old.”

Undoubtably the doorway into the church has been scorched, but the elders of the church are looking forward to the support they’ll receive from people willing to help.

“It’s really the pitts.” Witzel said. “But hopefully it’s just gets localized and get it boarded up and call on people we know to help us out.”

Community efforts to help the church are openly welcomed. There is plenty of clean up needed to bring the church back to it’s normal state.

“We can probably use help from other people. If people want to help out, call the church and see what they can do,” Tempas said. “But you know, it’s great to have people be concerned, it really is. It’s a landmark here.”

The church will not be hosting any services tomorrow. According to Tempas, Pastor Daniel Link also preaches out at Bayside Church in Jacoby Creek Road. Tempas, Witzel and the other elders will be going out there today and holding there services at the Bayside Church.


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One Comment

  1. Mike Seeber Mike Seeber Sunday, September 17, 2017

    Uh, I think a homeless man nearly burned to death also. Dig a little deeper.

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