An early morning fire destroys a Fort Smith orthodontist’s home Thursday. The fire was so big it shut down a portion of Free Ferry Road for a majority of the day while firefighters monitored hot spots.
Firefighters were at the house more than eight hours putting out the flames.
The scorched home belongs to Dr. David Harper with Harper Orthodontics in Fort Smith. According to fire chiefs, more than half the home is destroyed.
Family friend Bob Cooper says four people were inside the home when the flames first sparked around 4 a.m. Thursday morning.
"The family is doing fine,” said Cooper. “Two children were in the home this morning all of them got out fine without any problem."
According to family members, smoke alarms went off around 4:00 a.m. Thursday morning. Dr. Harper noticed a fire on his back porch and attempted to put it out with a garden hose. They say he did not think the fire would be able to get inside the home. His family of four was inside the home at the time. When the fire started to spread they called 911 and evacuated the house as Fort Smith firefighters came out to the scene.
"It was pretty wild for a while," said Fort Smith Fire Dept. Battalion Chief Bill Fant. "It looked like it was in the attic in the back over the patio area when we arrived on scene."
Friends and family rushed to save valuable possessions from the burning home. Family members say their daughter has an upcoming prom, but they were able to save her dress.
"A lot of friends pitched in and saved a lot of the family pictures and things that you would think you'd want to take at a time like this," said family friend Bob Cooper.
Firefighters say the fire was worse than it seemed because they are in the process of a remodel and the home is surrounded by concrete. Fire Marshal Chris Driggers says the construction from the remodel made the fire harder to fight.
"It gets trapped and there's some spots you can't get to and by the time you wind up getting to it, it's already spread to another area," said Driggers.
Firefighters had to drill holes in the roof to let the heat out of the home.
"It helps contain the fire to that area," said Battalion Chief Fant. "All the heat and everything will come to where that hole is."
EMS officials say they treated about half a dozen firefighters who were dealing with heat exhaustion due to the long duration of fighting the fire.
Fort Smith Police are also on-hand handling traffic in the area near the Free Ferry Road fire. Crews shut down roads between 66th and 74th Street while the fire department worked to contain the fire.