5 buildings "a total loss" after downtown fire

Source: Trey Miller
Source: Trey Miller

FORREST CITY, AR (KAIT) – The Forrest City Fire Department is investigating what caused a massive fire downtown that destroyed several buildings Sunday afternoon.

According to the fire department, crews arrived on the scene around 12:30 p.m. to find two buildings completely engulfed in flames, with fire quickly spreading to three other buildings nearby.

Frank Turner, Jr.'s apartment home sits next to the abandoned building that caught fire. Turner said fortunately the fire did not do any damage to his building.

"Some debris flew over and caught there at the corner of the building, some fiberglass which my brother happened to put it out."

Firefighters said they were able to control the fire to within the city block and are still extinguishing hot spots, but the five buildings touched by the flames are now considered a total loss.

Forrest City Fire Department captain Thurlo Ward said since the building is old, his department was prepared. "We been watching that structure for a while. We pre-planned on it."

However, the fire was so massive, they had to call for back up.

"We had Marianna Fire Department, Wynne Fire Department, New Castle, Caldwell, Palestine, Madison, they come (sic) in and assisted us with fighting this blaze."

Captain Ward said crews worked until around 9 a.m. Monday to contain the fire.

The heat from the fire melted a nearby trash can and parts of a car parked near the building. Lawyers from Sharpe, Beavers, Cline & Wright, the law firm connected to the building, said they are moving next door to Forrest City Abstract Co. temporarily.

Captain Ward said as bad as the fire was, it could have been worse.

"Due to the fact that we had extreme heat yesterday and extreme radiant heat from the fire yesterday, we was (sic) blessed."

Forrest City police officers said Washington Street is blocked off to Washington and Davis while the fire department continues to monitor hot spots. Division Street can be used as a bypass.

The structures were built as early as the 1860s, and two of the buildings were on the city's condemning list.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. No injuries were reported.

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