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Pine Bluff community reacts to overnight fire at historic mall

The Pines Mall in Pine Bluff has been a big part of the community for generations, but the future of the building is uncertain after a fire badly damaged the mall.

PINE BLUFF, Ark. — The parking lot was full Thursday at The Pines at Pine Bluff – however, it was not full with shoppers but instead those responding to an overnight fire.

Many of the city's residents, like Steve Huselton, also came by to see damage left by the fire. The lifelong resident of Pine Bluff knows the mall well – he and his kids grew up with it.

"I was here when the mall was first constructed. Everybody thought it was the greatest thing in the world and it is," Huselton said. "It happens, you got to pick up the pieces and go on. You can't say 'I quit.'"

Memories like those are the reason the mall, that's mostly abandoned, have stuck with him to this very day. 

After Thursday morning's fire, Huselton was left feeling emotional.

"I said, 'Oh no, more bad luck, hope it's not as bad as I thought it might be when I saw somebody had put a short film footage on Facebook,'" Huselton said.

The video Huselton is referencing was shared on Facebook Live by Darius and Dearyl Graydon. It was shot while they were on their way home from work early Thursday morning. 

They said they agree with Huselton, the mall is historic, but this doesn't surprise them.

"It's like, oh well, they weren't going to do anything with it anyway. So when it burnt, it really wasn't shocking," Darius said.

Neither the city's police nor the fire department have said what's next or what caused the fire. Despite that, residents like the Graydon's are already looking to move past this.

"Put another building over here, put a gym up in here," Dearyl said.

"Something for the community, something for the kids," Darius said.

Huselton is also moving forward, acknowledging what happened to the mall and knowing that something will be back there.

"We're not down, we're gonna keep plugging here in Pine Bluff," he said. "We're not giving or accepting defeat for any reason because we had this fire."

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