ATKINS, Ark.— An afternoon fire scorched multiple businesses on Main Street in Atkins.
According to officials with the Atkins Fire Department, the fire started around 3 o’clock Wednesday afternoon with an electric meter on the back of “Our Place,” a flea market in downtown Atkins.
“My heart is broken,” Melissa Austins, owner of Our Place said. “We worked so very hard on it the last two years and it’s just terrible that we lost everything.”
Atkins Fire Chief, Charles Cheek, said he has never seen a fire so intense in the city of Atkins and that it took his crew hours to put out the blaze. Multiple agencies from surrounding cities assisted as well.
“We aren’t used to fires of this kind of magnitude in this small town,” Chief Cheek said.
Cheek says their initial investigation shows the fire spread from the electric meter outside to the wiring inside.
“It was a fire that was in the attic space which is really hard to get to anything with.” Cheek said.
Austin says at least 25 vendors had stalls inside and lost everything. According to Austin, they are not responsible for any damage that occurs inside.
“I think it’s sad because we were really building this business up and getting people down here in this small town,” Austin said. “We are just going to trust God and he will make a way for us like he has everything else.”
The flea market was not the only business that sustained damage. According to Atkins Fire, Jose’s Café which sits next-door to ‘Our Place’ was burned in the process.
Emergency crews say a portion of Main Street will remain closed during the clean-up process because they fear the structure will collapse onto the road.