A Fort Smith business was destroyed in a fire Monday morning (July 22).
The fire began around 10:30 a.m. at MJM Used Cars located at 2908 N. 6th. Eyewitnesses said popping noises and explosions could be heard as the fire grew.
Residents who live and work near the auto body shop and car lot were briefly evacuated. The fire department requested residents be evacuated because of auto body paints inside the business that could produce harmful fumes, according to Patricia Sullivan with the Fort Smith Police Department.
It was unclear early Monday how the fire started. No one was injured.
The owner and his two sons watched as flames estimated to be 40 feet high destroyed their business.
“When I came back here, I just saw my dreams burned,” said Mustafa Yassin, the business’ owner.
Smoke could be seen billowing from the business from a skycam mounted at the 5NEWS station in Fort Smith.
“It's devastating watching when you watch your memories, and you know, I mean this is where we started,” said Yassin’s son Mahmoud. “To watch our memories just burn like that.”
Almost an hour into fighting the fire, crews had to pull back because of the intensity of the fire, officials said. The fire was out by 12:45 p.m., according to officials.
Once crews got to the site, Fire Marshal Ronny Rogers says crews had to fight in defensive mode, meaning they had to stay outside of the building in case the roof collapsed.
“Tried to fight it from the windows and the doors,” he said. “This is an old wooden building, and it basically got up into the attic and then got away from us.”
Firefighters remained on the scene for a while, watching for hot spots. Crews tried to salvage what they could.
“It was just too strong,” Mahmoud said. “They couldn't save it. They couldn't save it. But, you know, we'll rebuild. We'll rebuild.”
OG&E responded to power outages in the area believed to have been caused by the fire. More than 1,800 people were without power in Fort Smith Monday afternoon, according to the company's website.