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Burning pallets sparked chemical fire at commercial site, chief says

by From Staff Reports | April 19, 2021 at 3:30 p.m.
The remains of a commercial building and several other smaller buildings are seen at 3595 Highway 7 north after a chemical fire that erupted Saturday night at the location. - Submitted photo courtesy of the Fountain Lake Fire Department.

A large chemical fire reportedly started by someone burning wooden pallets nearby destroyed one commercial building and several outside covered storage units Saturday night in the 3500 block of Highway 7 north, Fountain Lake Fire Chief Steven Burroughs told The Sentinel-Record Monday.

Around 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Fountain Lake Fire Department responded to a chemical fire in a commercial building at 3595 Highway 7 north. Arkansas State Police, Garland County Sheriff's Department, Jessieville Fire Department, Piney Fire Department, the city of Hot Springs Fire Department along with their hazardous materials response team, and several other departments and agencies responded to the location a short time later.

One structure and several outside covered storage units were already consumed by fire when firefighters arrived, Burroughs said, and it was soon discovered there were many firearms, ammunition, a large numbers of barrels containing unknown chemicals, boats and vehicles inside the building and inside the covered storage areas.

The fire reportedly started outside the structure, Burroughs said, adding that "an individual who rents an office on the property was burning pallets of wood and the pallets fell over and the fire transferred to the building."

Before the arrival of emergency personnel, the fire had spread from the structure behind the Floor Store and Automotive shop to the covered storage structures in the rear of the property.

Due to the presence of the exploding unknown chemicals, ammunition, barrels, and fuel tanks, a defensive fire plan was initiated, Burroughs said.

"This plan was successful in protecting the adjacent businesses, storage buildings, and properties while maintaining the safest operating conditions for all emergency responders and the general public," he said.

"The Fountain Lake Fire Department sends thanks to all the fire departments, agencies, and private individuals who responded to assist. This is a true visual of a community coming together in keeping our citizens safe," Burroughs said.

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