Historic Fort Chaffee hospital goes up in flames

    6:42 AM, Aug 4, 2011   |    comments
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    FORT CHAFFEE, Ark. (KFSM) -- Fort Smith Police say the historic Fort Chaffee hospital caught fire late Wednesday night.

    At least four buildings were engulfed by flames and at least two buildings have burned to the ground. Police say no homes are threatened by the massive fire.

    Several fire departments including Fort Smith, Barling, White Bluff and Fort Chaffee were on scene before 10:30 p.m. Wednesday working to get the fire contained.

    Eyewitnesses tell our affiliate KFSM that it appears three to four buildings were on fire around 11 p.m. One witness says she saw huge flames from her home on East Front Drive in east Fort Smith and smoke was filling the sky.

    Fort Smith Fire Chief Mike Richards says it was too dangerous for fightfighters to try and put the fire out so they're letting the buildings burn to the ground.

    "The buildings are made of all wood and other combustibles, lots of grass between them," says Richards. "And they're very close in proximity. With all the dry conditions, the heat they were just prime to burn very quickly."    

    The hot spots likely won't burn out for days, especially in the hot and dry weather conditions.

    "We'll do what we need to do," says Richards. "It's going to be a challenge for the next few days."

    The buildings contain dangerous chemicals but Richards says nearby residents are not in danger.

    (Source: KFSM) 

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