FORREST CITY, AR (abc24.com) - Thirty days to clean up and a small fortune to rebuild. That's what's facing the owners of buildings destroyed by a fire in Forrest City, Arkansas.
It took seven fire departments to put out the flames Sunday, May 27. Next, the city will give a month's notice to property owners to remove the debris. That's if they can manage.
"After we give them 30 days then the city would take all necessary means to get rid of the debris and take whatever necessary action against the property owners," said Forrest City Code Enforcement Officer, Connie Muqtasid.
After days of digging through the rubble, investigators were not able to find out what started the fire.
“They do know an origin, where it started. It did start in one of the condemned buildings on the east side of the rubble pile,” stated Forrest City Firefighter Shane Dallas.
It was one of the biggest fires in the city's history. The flames in that condemned building spread to five others. They comprised a row of buildings that stood in Forrest City since the 1800's. Confederate General and Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest built a tool shed for a railroad the same place the fire took place.
“The estimated value to rebuild the four properties that were destroyed by the fire will take approximately $1.5 million dollars,” Muqtasid said.
Parts of the buildings were still standing after the fire, but were a threat to collapse.
“What was left after the fire was unsafe. The city had to take the expense to go head and get it torn down,” Dallas said.
That cost roughly $15,000, which Forrest City plans to recoup from the property owners.