TYRONZA, Ark. — The Arkansas State Police is now investigating a fire from Sunday in downtown Tyronza, Arkansas.
The State’s Fire and Explosives Unit was in Tyronza on Monday morning gathering evidence after the fire destroyed a historic building that once housed the town’s only cafe.
Some of Judy Smullin’s best memories lay in the middle of this smoldering debris, which was once the home of Clara’s Midway Cafe, where she got her first job.
“I come by one day and they were cleaning and I told them, ‘I need a job.’ They said, ‘Well be here so and so’ and I was there eleven and half years,” Smullin said.
She says Clara’s was locally owned but its Friday night fish dinners were known far and wide.
“We had people come from Memphis, everywhere,” Smullin said. “I had a table one night and they were from New York.”
The former cafe turned storage space, sat between two businesses in this historic building that went up in flames Sunday morning.
“We know where it started, it was in the center building at the back sort of, in the center building is where it started at,” said Jeff Woods, Mayor of Tyronza.
He says the utilities had been shut off in that particular part of the building, but the adjoining businesses which were separated by brick firewalls did have utilities.
The Arkansas State Police Fire and Explosives Unit are trying to compile a cause and origin report on the incident.
“I have no idea how it started,” said George Motes, Tyronza resident. “But I would like to know how it started. I hope they can find out.”
“I just wanted to kind of bring it back to what it was and get new businesses in town,” Mayor Woods said.
According to the town’s historian, the building which burned was built by immigrants. But it’s too early to decide what will happen to the site now.
Tyronza will celebrate its 100-year anniversary in 2026.