Highway 271 Reopens Monday Morning After Massive Fire

FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- Arkansas Highway 271 reopened after 8 a.m. Monday (Aug. 6) as crews kept an eye on the smoldering remains of Smurfitt Recycling, part of which was destroyed by a massive fire that started Sunday (Aug. 5) night.

Smoke was still thick in the area, causing officials to urge caution for drivers nearby, though the highway that stretched along the scene of the fire remained closed from Sunday night until after 8 a.m. Monday.

The remains of a warehouse just outside of Fort Smith city limits were still smoking Monday morning after a fire started at around 9 p.m. Sunday night in an area where Smurfitt Recycling stored cardboard and paper bales.

The fire quickly spread throughout the warehouse and even to nearby Southern Tire Mart. The property is owned by Altes Sanitation, which leases it to Smurfitt. Altes Sanitation next door did not appear to have any damage.

Chris Sharp, owner of Sharp's Auto Body near Smurfitt Recycling, said he raced to his shop when he heard news about the fire.

"I got inside my gates and saw that the ire wasn't there. I just kind of made sure that it didn't get to me because I have a lot of cars here," Sharp said.

Fort Smith Fire Chief Philip Christensen told 5NEWS that crews will be monitoring the scene through Monday and into Tuesday to make sure the fire doesn't spread.

No injures were reported from the fire.

Our earlier report stated that several area fire crews were called to the scene because of a lack of fire hydrants in the area, but Karen Santos with the City of Fort Smith said that there are ample fire hydrants in the area.

While the fire did spread to Southern Tire Mart, Travis Cooper, Sebastian County emergency manager, said firefighters were able to contain it quickly, so the business should only have minor damage.

Authorities don't know about the cost of the damage yet, but it is a total loss to the structure and several tractor trailers on the property, according to Travis Cooper.

5NEWS reached out to Smurfit Kappa North America Recycling based in Mesquite, Texas. They said they had a prepared statement, and we are waiting for them to send it.