The Williams Brothers Feed Store barn fire on Monday night required two city departments working in concert for more than 18 hours to fully extinguish the burning hay, according to the city's fire chief.
The fire department responded to the scene, located about a block south of the Central Fire Station on Broadway Street, at 6:24 p.m. Monday.
Hot Springs Fire Chief Ed Davis said that firefighters encountered a "well-advanced fire burning in a large metal building used to store hay, straw, alfalfa and other agricultural feed products" when they arrived at the barn, located at 439 Broadway St.
The burning hay had so heated the structure that its metal cladding was "illuminated in a glowing bright red color," Davis said Wednesday.
The arriving companies began to protect the exposed structures and soon alleviated the threat of fire extending to any of the surrounding buildings, he said.
Once the fire was under control, firefighters began to make plans for the overhaul of the fire scene, which Davis described as "the process where you eliminate the hidden fires."
Hay is "very very difficult to put it out," Davis said. "The way the material is shaped ... it sheds water and burns readily." Hay, like a drinking straw, is a "hollow tube" that allows water to run off.
The barn reportedly contained 4,000 bales of hay, in addition to trucks, trailers and forklifts. Total damages are estimated between $350,000 and $400,000.
Knowing that heavy equipment would be needed to fully extinguish the fire, the fire department contacted Hot Springs Public Works Director Denny McPhate, who authorized the deployment of a Hot Springs Street Department hydraulic excavator and crew to the scene, according to Davis.
"Within minutes, street department Manager John Faulkner contacted us and began mobilizing personnel and equipment to assist the fire department with the daunting task of separating the stacks of smoldering hay so that the fire department could extinguish the deep-seated fires," he said.
"Street department crews worked alongside fire personnel for more than 18 hours to assist with the process of overhaul," Davis said.
"Their assistance was invaluable to us during the process of fighting this fire," Davis said. "We are fortunate to have such a great resource as the street department in our city family. We appreciate John Paul and the effort of all of his employees who assisted at the Williams Brothers fire."
A reportedly homeless man and a 14-year-old male were arrested Monday night on arson charges in connection with a fire, according to Hot Springs police.
Lane Anthony Brown, 21, who lists no permanent address, and the juvenile were both arrested on a felony charge of arson, punishable by up to life in prison, for the barn fire and misdemeanor counts of arson and unlawful burning, each punishable by up to one year in jail, in relation to other fires. Brown was also charged with a misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Brown, appearing by video, entered a not guilty plea Wednesday in Garland County District Court. Bond was set at $100,000, and Judge Ralph Ohm issued a no-contact order for Brown barring him from contact with Williams Brothers Feed Store, its owner, and Transportation Depot, where he and the juvenile allegedly set a fire in a trash can.
The juvenile was booked into the Garland County Juvenile Detention Center on zero bond.
The Sentinel-Record follows The Associated Press privacy policies and does not publish the names of juvenile offenders unless they are charged as adults.Local on 11/30/2017
Print Headline: Departments work together for 18 hours to douse fire