FORREST CITY, AR (abc24.com) - A huge fire destroyed two historic buildings and several businesses in downtown Forrest City, AR. The fire began Sunday, May 27, around 12:30 p.m. Firefighters spent nearly 18 hours fighting the flames overnight. Finally the flames are gone, but fire crews are afraid patches could flare back up.
Dianne Cook's lived in Forrest City her entire life, "My first train ride was out of here when I was six years old."
She still can't believe the crumbled ruins that now sit in what once was the heart of Forrest City. "To see these structures go down it is kind of sad, it's a sinking feeling you don't get back."
Immediately when Cook heard about the roaring fire from the abandoned building on Front Street she rushed downtown. "All of it was in flames." Cook says, "There was boiling out of the tree tops, you could see it way before I got downtown."
After the call came in to the fire station it only took minutes for Captain Thurlo Ward to get to the historic buildings. Ward says both buildings were "fully involved when I arrived on the scene."
Ward doesn't know what started the fire or if it's suspicious. Nearly 70 firefighters from seven different fire departments took shifts fighting the sweltering blaze. The heat was so intense it even melted parts of nearby cars. "The radiant heat was unbearable," Ward says, "I had to move my car twice to exit it."
Firefighters were able to knock out the blaze early Monday morning but the fire continues to smolder and could spark up again. Firefighters are keeping a close eye the smoking buildings. So are residents, lines of cars continue to stop to look at the charred remains. Even Cook needed another chance to say goodbye, "I just felt like I had to come see one last time."
One building was abandoned, the other had several businesses in it. Fire crews will work the grounds again Monday night to try to get the remaining hot spots out.