Property owned by Hoxie Mayor catches fire; fire chief resigns

Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 3:06 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 21, 2023 at 6:38 PM CST
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HOXIE, Ark. (KAIT) — A fire broke out at a home owned by Hoxie Mayor Dennis Coggins early Sunday morning, leaving the property in ruins.

The mayor, who was in the process of demolishing the old home located on Broad Street, said the house did not have utilities hooked up, and Arkansas State Police have initiated an investigation, suspecting the involvement of either local youths or an unhoused individual.

Mayor Coggins, who had plans to construct a new residence behind the one that succumbed to the flames, expressed shock at the unexpected turn of events.

Adding another layer to the incident, Mayor Coggins revealed that the Hoxie Fire Chief resigned Sunday morning, citing the fire as the catalyst.

The mayor was upset with his fire department that he was not notified that one of his properties had caught fire.

The former fire chief told the mayor he had been out of town and had no information.

That’s when Mayor Coggins called the assistant chief.

“He called, and I asked, “‘Sir, why didn’t you call me? Was I supposed to let the d*** house burn and then call you?’ and so I hung up on him,” Mayor Coggins said.

After hanging up on the assistant chief, Mayor Coggins was notified both men would be stepping down.

“He said he was done with it and wasn’t going to take no cussings or nothing,” Coggins explained.

Both the former chief and assistant fire chief said when responding to a fire, they simply want the address of where their assistance is needed. Not the owners or anything of that nature.

City Councilman Daryl Pickney said he’s confused as to why the mayor was upset about not being notified.

“There is no reason for the mayor to be upset because he didn’t get a phone call,” Pickney explained.

Assistant Chief Chuck Adams has assumed the role of fire chief following the resignation.

Despite the change in leadership, the mayor doesn’t expect to lose any volunteers.

“Every one of them said they were going to stay, so we will see,” Coggins explained.

Both the former fire chief and assistant chief told K8 News they were not interested in discussing the situation in an interview.

This is the second fire at a property owned by the mayor. In 2021, a fire destroyed an apartment complex in town.

Coggins, who owns Rose Garden Estates, said the fire destroyed seven units, including his own.