Crews Clearing Debris At Downtown Forrest City Fire Scene
(Forrest City, AR) Fire investigators in Forrest City say they are closer to finding the cause for a huge fire that destroyed five downtown buildings.
The spectacular blaze broke out Sunday and continued to burn for almost 24 hours.
Some walls are still standing and officials are concerned about keeping the public at a distance.
Wednesday afternoon, National Weather Service radar shows a strong storm system heading toward Forrest City.
In its path, the fragile remains of Sunday’s fire.
Forrest City’s Fire Marshall, Assistant Chief Anthony Renigar is concerned, “With the weather coming in, it’s a possibility the walls could fall.”
Assistant Chief Renigar says investigators have been working round the clock to find out what started massive fire that destroyed five downtown buildings, ”The Arkansas State Police investigators left this morning. We have determined the origin of the fire.”
That’s all Renigar is willing to say at this time.
But he did confirm that a week before the fire, inspectors found evidence of vagrants living in one of the buildings.
Two abandoned buildings had already been condemned and Forrest City Code
Enforcement Officer Connie Muqtasid was waiting for the go-ahead to knock them down, ”I had planned on targeting the commercial structure and continue to proceed with the demolition of this particular structure that just caught on fire.”
While crews continue to clear the debris, three businesses are trying to get back on their feet.
One of them is a local law firm which has already found a home a few doors from the fire scene.
Marshall Wright is a partner and State Representative from District 51, “We’re already up and running just down the street. Phone’s been transferred over, secretaries are down there working right now. And we’re back in business.”
And folks not even touched by the fire are helping out.
Jane Vaughn brought some food from the local Food Giant where she’s manager.
It’s just her way of easing the loss, “I just know they’re really great people. And I know they’ve got a lot that they’re going through right now and every little thing helps.”
Forrest City Fire and Police have issued stern warnings to anyone looting or trying to take scrap metal, you will be arrested.
We were told streets around the fire scene will reopen as soon as the remaining walls are torn down.