Cause of downtown Blytheville fire ruled undetermined

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) - An investigation was conducted in Blytheville after crews battled a fully involved structure fire in the city's downtown area Wednesday night.

The building is located at the corner of Franklin and Main streets.

It contained a thrift store, four apartment, and a storage facility.

According to Blytheville Fire Chief Mike Carney, the fire appeared to have started in one of the apartments and spread to the common attic.

The building is across the street from the fire department and as firefighters got to the scene, they could see flames coming from the front door of an apartment.

Crews went inside and were able to get the apartment fire knocked down, but the fire had gotten to the apartments and to the attic, Carney said.

He made a decision to get firefighters out of danger after determining the building was a total loss.

"We brought our crews out once we determined that it was really what we call a loser," Carney said. "We changed our way of thinking and went to a defensive mode."

Crews stayed on the scene for several hours, making sure the fire did not spread to any nearby buildings.

Chief Carney said the cold conditions slowed down some of their tactics, but his guys did the best they could with the situation.

"That's the elements of the cold," Carney said.  "It was tough, slipping on the ice. They did what they had to do, but it did hamper us."

Crews were back at the structure Thursday morning putting out spot fires.

Chief Carney said because the structure was so unsafe, they were not able to continue the investigation.

"Well there wasn't any question about it, our guys and the public's lives matter a whole lot more than a determination of the reason for this fire happening," Carney said. "We have some good ideas, but technically it will go down as undetermined."

The fire department, public works, code enforcement and the mayor's office decided to demolish the building Thursday.

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