Building Housing Police Department Burns In Joiner Arkansas

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(Joiner, AR) A large building containing several businesses and the police department has been heavily damaged after an early morning fire.

The fire Tuesday morning damaged a business, a church and even the town's police department. 

No one knows exactly what caused the fire,  but it took crews almost two hours, in freezing temperatures to bring it under control.

Tuesday morning a backhoe operator knocked down part of a burned and crumbling wall, so it wouldn't endanger firefighters on the scene.

Sixteen volunteers from Joiner and nearby Wilson fought flames and freezing temperatures before 7am,

"Brick building holds the heat and makes it a little harder to put out."

Wilson, Arkansas Fire Chief Paul Welch says the old brick building housed a laundromat, a small church and the town's police department.

Chief Welch says the building has more than one roof, causing a lot of problems for volunteers, "They're built with a flat tar roof. And as people buy them they come in and lower the roofs and lower the roofs. And the fire gets between the ceilings and makes it hard to get to."

The police station suffered only smoke and water damage, but the fire destroyed the laundromat and church.

Reverend Lawrence Vaughn, Pastor of Agape Christian Church in West Memphis, Arkansas, is adding up the damages, "About a $120-130,00."

His church uses a portion of the building twice a month for services.

He also owns the laundromat and says he was trying to get a jump on warmer temperatures by having it remodeled, "It had no air conditioning and we tried to make it comfortable for the people here: that we could try to put the fans and the air in there."

And while that effort, along with the Agape ministry, has now gone "up in smoke," Pastor Vaughn's faith survived the fire, "It's very disturbing, but we're going to get through it."

Pastor Lawrence Vaughn says he believes the fire may have started in the church and spread to the laundromat.

But an investigation will determine the exact cause of the fire.

Joiner currently has no police officers and is patrolled by the Mississippi County Sheriff's Department.