FORT SMITH (KFSM) — A man died in a massive fire Wednesday night (Jan. 16) at North E Street and Riverfront Drive in downtown Fort Smith.
Fort Smith Police have identified Jacob Demery, 36, as the victim in the trailer fire.
According to a report from the Fort Smith Police, a witness told police that he was putting up a tent near the area when a woman came up and asked if he wanted alcohol. He said no, then he saw the woman go back over to the trailer occupied by Demery.
A short time later, she ran back to the witness and asked for help because she said the trailer was on fire, police said. She went back to the trailer, and he could hear her yelling to Demery to jump out of the trailer and him saying he couldn't. After several tries to get Demery to jump, the trailer became fully engulfed, and the witness said he couldn't hear Demery anymore, police said.
The investigation remains open. Sgt. Clyde Forrest with the Fort Smith Police said investigators didn't know if the death was accidental or the result of foul play.
Police, EMS and Fire Crews are still not sure what caused the fire. Officials say one semi-trailer caught fire earlier.
It took fire crews about 20 minutes to bring down the flames. The fire was so hot that it almost completely destroyed the trailer and also caused damage to other trailers nearby.
The trailer was parked at the Marck Recycling Center.
Police say they believe some homeless people may have been living inside the trailer and were there when the fire started.
“We’ve had reports of that in the past and periodically we attempt to check. The trailer is that kind of thing. When it gets cold they find places to get out of the rain and wind and that kind of thing. And with as wet as it’s been lately we’ve probably had more of it than usual," Forrest said.