The initial call for the fire was dispatched just after 9:30 a.m., Sunday, Aug. 23. Ash Flat Fire Department was first on the scene of the fire, which was believed to have originated in the Just For Fun Consignment shop, according to Ash Flat Fire Chief Stacy Horton.
The building quickly became fully engulfed and Ash Flat called for mutual aid from Highland, Cherokee Village and Salem Fire Departments.
Horton said before the fire was contained, volunteers from Agnos/Glencoe/Heart, Morriston and Center also aided in the effort to contain the blaze. He said Center Fire Department also brought their mobile cascade system for the nearly 40 firefighters to refill their air tanks if needed.
Horton said the men fought the blaze until after 2 p.m. and many firefighters from the Ash Flat Fire Department worked in three hour shifts throughout the night to insure there were no flare ups and that the building was undisturbed for the investigation.
During the fire, Ash Flat firefighters Alan Fulgham, Braden Ables and Marty Goodwin went inside the 1,100 degree plus building to retrieve hoses when the fire began to accelerate and raged across the building. Ables said he saw the fire get very close to them and he said, "I know we are supposed to follow the line out, but I knew where the door was and headed out." He and Fulgham said it was extremely scary inside the inferno. Horton said he saw the fire accelerate and radioed to the men to get out. He said, "It seemed like forever before they got out." He said one of their department's fireman was transported to Fulton County Hospital in Salem and treated for heat exhaustion, the man was later released and Horton said he is doing fine.
Highland Fire Chief Stephen Davis and Cherokee Village Chief Mike Taylor were also on the scene working throughout the day.
At one point during the ordeal, hay inside the back side of the arena began to blaze causing extreme heat outside the building. Many onlookers had to back up nearly 100 feet in order to avoid the heat.
Horton, who had only a few hours of sleep, was at the scene Monday morning. He said the investigation into the cause of the fire is being investigated by Arkansas State Police Investigator Wendall Jines.
Horton said all the businesses were a total loss with the exception of Goth's R Us. He said the business incurred severe smoke damage, but the merchandise was not burned in the fire.
Horton would like to thank all the area fire departments who responded to this unprecedented fire as well as all the volunteers and local persons who brought water to the firemen during the incident. Walmart also donated water to the firefighters. He also thanked Spring River Ambulance Service crews who remained at the scene throughout the day.