SHERIDAN, Ark. – Sections of Grant County continue to smolder more than 24 hours after a fire tore through a thousand acres of land.
It happened off County Roads 51 and 57 and Highway 35, close to Corinth Church and the B-17 Memorial near Sheridan.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but the Sunday afternoon blaze caused dozens to evacuate their homes as winds picked up burning embers and spread the fire for miles. No one was injured, and no buildings were destroyed in the wildfire.
Terry McNamara and her son have lived off Grant County 57 for ten years. Sunday, she and her family grabbed their three dogs and fled from the fire after officials told them it was time to go.
“Some officers came and said we needed to evacuate because the winds were high and they couldn’t get the fire under control,” McNamara said. “[My son] loaded up his car, I loaded up mine and just took off.”
It was a dash she had to take twice – once more after returning home to find a wall of firefighters continuing to fight the blaze. She had only sat down when they told her she needed to leave again. For the rest of the night, she and her family camped out at a local gas station with the pets until she heard over the scanner that they could come home, well after 2:00 in the morning.
Just yards away from her home, the Corinth Church and Cemetery also survived the flames. The historic congregation founded in the 1800s was close to the fire line but was saved thanks to the hard work of volunteer fire departments that worked hours to stop the flames.
John Williams, an area pastor, stopped by the church Monday afternoon to check on it.
“This is a sister church to us, so I was just checking on the community and people around here,” Williams explained. He had just finished up a service Sunday night when ash began to rain on his congregation, about four miles away.
When talking about the untouched church, he said, “I believe the Lord spared this building. To me, that just gives more encouragement to me and others in this community the faith in the Lord.”
Both Williams and McNamara are thankful that the fire didn’t spread to homes or injure anyone and are ready to catch up on rest after an exhausting and terrifying night.