An overnight structure fire is being investigated by the Yell County Sheriff’s Department after firefighters discovered the incident resulted in a fatality.
Just after 12:30 p.m. Friday, July 22, Yell County dispatchers received a 911 call reporting a structure fire at 20518 State Highway 27 in Chickalah. The 911 caller informed the dispatcher that the house was fully involved. The caller said there were vehicles parked outside the residence, but it was not known if anyone was inside the residence.
After taking the report, Yell County Fire Control dispatched all District 1 Fire Departments to respond to the blaze. Firefighters from the Chickalah and Dardanelle Rural Fire Departments checked en route to the location and, as they responded, the dispatcher informed them that the house was located next to the Chickalah Fire Department.
When the firefighters arrived, they quickly tackled the intense flames coming out of the windows of the accommodation. When additional fire units arrived, they joined the fight and helped put out the flames that were consuming the house, from inside the residence.
As firefighters began their battle, Pinnacle EMS was dispatched to the scene due to the possibility that someone was still inside.
The firefighters approached the front door of the house in order to enter to carry out a search of the residence. After finding the door locked, firefighters forced the door open to enter. Once the door was opened, firefighters were overcome by thick smoke and what they described as an intense “chemical” type smell. Moments later, firefighters made a grim discovery after locating a male victim who had succumbed to the blaze just inside the house.
Deputies from the Yell County Sheriff‘s Office contacted dispatch and requested the response from the Yell County Criminal Investigation Division (CID) to respond to the scene to initiate an investigation into the fatal fire.
After transporting the victim outside, firefighters set up fans in front of the door to help ventilate the smoke and fumes coming out of the house.
Fans helped clear heavy smoke from the residence and helped firefighters continue their fight.
While firefighters worked inside the house, other firefighters accessed the rear eaves of the structure using a ladder and inspected the attic to ensure it was not there was no extension of the fire.
After gaining access to all areas of the residence, the fire was deemed under control and shortly thereafter extinguished.
Pinnacle EMS arrived on the scene and after staff examined the victim, the Yell County Coroner’s Office was dispatched to respond.
Detectives from the Yell County Sheriff’s Department began their investigation and collected evidence at the scene in the early hours of Friday morning.
At the scene, River Valley Now spoke to the 911 caller who said while driving through the area on State Highway 27, he observed heavy smoke billowing from the structure and the glow of fire inside. the residence. At that point, he immediately pulled off the freeway and called 911 to report the fire. He shared what he observed with the dispatcher and informed him that at the end of the 911 call, he heard a loud explosion that shattered the windows and sent flames out of the residence.
According to firefighters on site, the explosion was likely a flashover, the near-simultaneous ignition of most directly exposed combustible materials in an enclosed space. Flashover occurs when certain organic materials are heated and undergo thermal decomposition and release flammable gases.
The 911 caller remained at the scene during the firefight and spoke to detectives who obtained a statement from him.
Once the firefighters made overhaul efforts to ensure the fire was out, they packed up their gear and the command was completed at the scene. Shortly before 2 a.m. Friday morning, all firefighters cleared the scene and returned to their available stations for duty.
The unidentified male victim was transported from the scene of the fire by the Yell County Coroner’s Office. Due to the ongoing investigation, his body will be held in the coroner’s office and then sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for an autopsy.
At the time of this story, no further information was available and the identity of the victim has not been released. The investigation into the incident is ongoing.
As River Valley Now receives additional information regarding this story, readers will be updated.