Debris Cleanup Continues at Historic Arkansas Hotel Destroyed by Fire

March 5, 2014

The cleanup continued Monday at the site of the historic Majestic Hotel after city leaders opted to raze the buildings that were destroyed in a fire last week.

City Manager David Watkins said Monday that the cleanup of the three-building complex would happen as quickly as possible.

“We’re not going to let this thing drag out,” Watkins said. “This isn’t going to be `do a little bit every day for a year.’ That’s not going to happen.”

Built in the 1880s, the Majestic Hotel thrived during Hot Springs’ bathhouse heyday but fell into disrepair after its closure in 2006. The building was boarded-up and vacant when it caught fire Thursday evening. No one was injured in the fire.

The hotel was torn down over a 12-hour period late Friday and early Saturday for safety reasons, The Sentinel-Record reported.

“I think we brought the thing down safely and economically,” said County Judge Rick Davis

Authorities don’t yet know what caused the blaze that tore through the hotel. The building’s owner, Garrison Hassenflu, said he’s hopeful the cause will soon be pinpointed. Hassenflu said the structure was uninsured.

“We would like very much to see the origin or cause of the fire, and the responsible party, should there be one, prosecuted. We want to find that source as bad as anyone,” Hassenflu said. Authorities have not said whether investigators believe the fire was intentionally set.

Hassenflu said he hopes the land will be used for development once the debris is cleaned up.

“We understand the love of the community (for the hotel), so hopefully we share in their feelings about the building. We believe there is still a great history with the rest of the buildings and they can be brought back to life,” he said.

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