HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) – A day after the historical landmark caught fire, crews remained on scene of the Majestic Hotel in downtown Hot Springs, working to control hot spots that remained from the night before.
Hot Springs Fire Chief Ed Davis said Friday morning that crews were continuing to contain the fire to the oldest part of the hotel complex and keep it from jumping to Lenai Towers to the southwest. To do this, firefighters have been using up to 500,000 gallons of water. Residents are being asked to preserve water to help with the cause.
Davis said containing the fire and embers may be difficult because the building is a city block square and the crews cannot get to it from the west due to cliffs and steep terrain. To accommodate all the work, Central Avenue is shut down for about six blocks, and several business were not open Friday; they may be closed Saturday as well. The streets may be blocked off for weeks if there is concern that the building may collapse.
"The building is not structurally sound because of the fire. So, therefore it's in the best interest of the citizens of Hot Springs to just get rid of the building," explained Cpl. McCrary Means with the Hot Springs Police Department
Fire crews certainly weren't the only people on the scene Friday. Hot Springs locals wandered by, staring up at the building that once lived up to its name ... majestic.
The building itself has made headlines in recent years. The hotel shut down in 2006, and just last week THV11 and other media outlets reported that the building had been boarded up. Davis admitted Thursday the building had been a target for copper theft and for transients looking for shelter over the years.
While there were many memories shared of the historic building, there was also the opinion that it was time to come down. Some said it was not kept up, an eyesore, time to come down ... but still others marveled in sadness at the loss of such a landmark and piece of history for the Hot Springs community.
The city of Hot Springs sent out a release Friday morning saying:
Garland County Judge Rick Davis has contacted Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe's office to request an emergency declaration, and the owner of the building is being sent formal notice today of the city's efforts to address the immediate concerns to public health, safety and welfare posed by the fire. Judge Davis will coordinate with the City of Hot Springs to begin the demolition of the older section of the Majestic (the yellow building) as early as today in order to mitigate the safety hazards posed by the still-burning structure. The Hot Springs Sanitation Department will haul the rubble to the county landfill if allowed by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. The Stormwater Division will gauge the runoff for water quality concerns. ADEQ has also been contacted regarding a waiver of hazardous materials removal for the structure.
Investigators do not know at this time what may have caused the fire.