LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A house fire in downtown Little Rock on Saturday morning is causing neighbors and a local historic society group to speak about a problem they said has been going on for too long.
Neighbors said the fire broke out around 5:30 a.m. near 14th and Spring Streets.
They said the flames burned for three to four hours on a historic home that has been vacant for several years, but it wasn’t just that home that went up in flames.
Neighbors next door suffered, as well, and are now forced out, picking up the pieces of the damage left behind.
Amber Estrada said family heirloom pieces that were passed down from generation to generation were a few of the things in her home that were untouched by the flames that rolled in on Saturday morning.
“We’re still kind of in that shocked phase, kind of like, is this is this really going on,” she said.
The fire ignited in the vacant home next door to the fourplex Estrada said she has lived in for the past five years.
“Danny, who has the apartment on the other side, he came over yelling, ‘fire, fire, wake up, wake up, let’s get out of here,'” she said.
That’s when Estrada said they called 911 and six fire trucks came to the scene, and began to put out the flames that burned for hours. Thankfully, no one was left injured.
“It could’ve turned out quite differently, especially because it was right by some bedrooms so we’re very grateful,” she said.
This mysterious fire left Estrada with water and smoke damage and members of the Quapaw Quarter Association with questions.
“I understand that the house was not very well secured and that’s a big concern of ours with several of these vacant houses,” Patricia Blick, Executive Director for the Quapaw Quarter Association, said.
A house that she said contributed to the national register of historic places.
Blick said it’s known as the Horace Mitchell House and was built in 1911 by Architect Charles Thompson.
“I just think it’s devastating to lose a house that has so much potential,” she said.
Blick said the same exact thing happened to a vacant historic home on Park Lane last December.
“It’s very frustrating because we continue to see these fires,” she said.
These frustrations that Estrada said are shared equally by neighbors that are now picking up the pieces.
“The fire next door caused the fire in our house. There’s nothing short of that. We don’t have our home right now and the families downstairs, they don’t have their homes either,” she said.
Blick said Quapaw Quarter Association is planning to address this issue with the city and Fire Marshal and discuss opportunities for code modifications for these vacant homes.
The Little Rock Fire Department said it can’t comment on the cause or damage until the Fire Marshal has a chance to investigate further.