INDEPENDENCE COUNTY, Ark. – A smoke plume across the sky in Batesville had many people concerned Wednesday. At its center was a blaze consuming more than 150 cars.

Jon Jarvis owns Chinquapin Auto Salvage, the site of the massive fire.

“Holy Smokes. What am I going to do?” Jarvis asked as he looked at the black cloud above his business.

As the blaze quickly grew out of control north of Batesville, it was about 12:45 p.m. when Linden Finney with Chinquapin Auto Salvage called firefighters, as his boss hopped on a tractor and went in to save his 30-year-old business.

“I could see anything, and I had to duck out a few times because the smoke was so thick and black, we couldn’t even breathe,” Finney said.

With the constant popping of tires and glass windows, Finney said, “It sounded like World War III.”

Though some might call it trash, it is Jarvis’ treasure.

“We started moving cars out of the way to where it wouldn’t burn the other 400 over there. It burned about 156 cars,” Jarvis said.

Averaging a value of $1,200 a vehicle, he estimated $375,000 worth of inventory lost.

According to Northside Fire Department Chief Shawn Stephens, the fire started on the other side of the scrapyard’s property line.

“The fire originally started from a brush pile that was burning. The wind picked up. Spread it over to Chinquapin’s. It started with a semi-trailer and from there it just started spreading through the cars,” Fire Chief Stephens said.

Firefighters had to decide how much they were willing to risk.

“You never know if the vehicles are completely out of gas. They have metals that reacts to metals inside the vehicles. When start trying to put them out, you’ll have explosions from that,” Stephens said.

“They said we are just going to have to let it burn. Let it burn,” Jarvis remembered.

“He said he couldn’t see, and he was not taking the chance of ruining a $300,000 pump truck for what he called junk,” Linney added.

By moving cars on top of one another, Jarvis and firefighters saved most vehicles from the steel mill, but what was on the fire side of the dividing line went up in smoke.

“You get a car on fire, you can’t get it put out. I mean it’s going to burn,” Jarvis explained.

Seven different agencies responded to contain the fire over about three hours. They included Northside FD, Cave City FD, Batesville FD, Southside FD, Arkansas Division of Forestry, Independence County Sheriff’s Office and Arkansas State Police.

No injuries were reported due to the fire. Jarvis said he is not yet certain if he’s going to take legal action against his neighbor but he’s going to have to do something to recoup the cost.