HOT SPRINGS – The 100 and 200 blocks of Park Avenue remain closed as firefighters address the blaze at the Majestic Hotel. The Hot Springs Police Department has established checkpoints at the intersection of Park Avenue / Gulpha Gorge Road and at the intersection of Central Avenue / Spring Street. Those having essential business downtown are being allowed entry from these checkpoints. Motorists can travel from Whittington Avenue south onto Central Avenue to access the downtown area at this time.
The National Park Service road to the Mountain Tower, accessed from Fountain Street, is closed at this time.
The Hot Springs Fire Department responded to a call regarding a fire at the Majestic Hotel, located at the intersection of Central, Park and Whittington avenues, at around 5:30 p.m. yesterday, Thursday, February 27. Upon arrival, Engine 3 found the top floor fully involved. The HSFD set up a defensive perimeter, including exposure protection for nearby structures, and has been directing water at the exterior of the Majestic on a continuous basis since arrival. No firefighter injuries have been incurred.
Responding to the Majestic fire has been a collaborative effort. The HSFD is providing firefighters on continuous six-hour shifts. Nearly all area fire departments in the region have assisted or will assist them in the coming days, including Lake Hamilton, 70 West, Fountain Lake, Benton, Malvern, Hot Springs Village, Cutter Morning Star and more. Agencies such as the Garland County Department of Emergency Management, Red Cross, Salvation Army, LifeNet, City of Hot Springs, and area businesses all contributed support.
Hot Springs National Park has a wildland truck that is patrolling the area for embers. A second HSNP truck has been summoned to assist.
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.
Students at the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts are being asked to shelter in place at this time. Fire suppression efforts are requiring up to 500,000 gallons per hour. All Hot Springs residents can play a role in fighting the Majestic fire by voluntarily conserving water until further notice. Water conservation tips can be found on the city’s website at http://www.cityhs.net/DocumentCenter/Home/View/268 .
The fire is estimated to take an undetermined number of days to completely extinguish. In the meantime, the public’s patience is appreciated.