Bentonville Fire Marshal: Electrical Pole Could Have Sparked Massive Plant Fire

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KFSM) — City officials may have traced what caused a massive industrial fire at United Industries in Bentonville on Wednesday (Dec. 4) afternoon.

Early signs show an electrical pole with a faulty electric terminator sparked the flames, according to Bentonville Fire Marshal Jake Feemster.

“Preliminary data indicates that the possible origin is in the area of an electrical pole with a failed electric terminator. The origin and cause investigation is ongoing and with the assistance of state and federal agencies due to the proximity to city property,” Debbie Griffin with the City of Bentonville said.

One person was hurt due to the flames, but all employees and first responders walked away unscathed.

“It could have been a lot worse. If crews had not been able to protect those highly flammable tanks and barrels and keep it out of the building, it would have been much worse than it was,” Kevin Boydston, Deputy Chief for the Bentonville Fire Department, said.

Clean up is underway, and crews are working to restore and replace powerlines that melted during the fire.

Three of the four silos at the plant collapsed in the blaze.

Crews are testing air quality under the supervision of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality because of what burned inside the silos could have released carbon monoxide and other toxins into the air.

“We test for carbon monoxide oxygen levels and things of that nature, and sure to the intensity of the fire upon our arrival if you’ve seen any pictures of the plumes it was a rapid rate of rise by the time it cleared any vacant property it was well over 200 feet in the air,” Boydston said.

Firefighters were able to keep a tank filled with a highly flammable substance from exploding by using thermal drone technology being demonstrated at the Bentonville Fire Department the day the fire broke out.

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