Arkansas business owners struggling with wildfires

Garland County rallied around several business owners after a fire ripped through Northpark Plaza early Friday morning.

HOT SPRINGS VILLAGE, Ark. — Garland County has proven time and time again that it can rally when times get tough.

Last week, an EF-1 tornado hit a school in Jessieville, and on Friday, a fire ripped through several businesses in Hot Springs Village.

“I’m speechless,” said TLC Wellness Spa owner Christian Bearden.

Bearden said she was heartbroken after looking at the damage.

“I know how hard it is as a business woman, as a business owner,” Bearden said. “How hard it is to lose something you worked so hard for.”

Fountain Lake firefighters received a call around 5 a.m. Friday about a fire at Northpark Plaza. With the help of several other agencies, the Fountain Lake Fire Department responded to the call and was able to extinguish the flames.

“I’m so thankful no one was hurt,” Bearden said. “Everyone is ok.”

Although the loss is difficult for Bearden, she maintains a positive attitude about the situation.

“I had a great group of friends come,” Bearden said. – I cried for a second and they helped me make a list… I’m moving forward.

While TLC Wellness Spa suffered the most damage, other businesses, such as Melinda’s Coffee Corner, were also affected.

Melinda’s Coffee Corner co-owner Daniel Owen said he’s just thankful it wasn’t worse.

“All our equipment was spared,” Owen said. “We’re working on plans and getting it out. We might set up a temporary space. We’ll see if we have catering booked for this month to feed my family for the foreseeable future.”

Both Owen and Bearden said they felt the support of the Garland County community and that made the difficult time a little easier.

Before I was here this morning, Owen said. “30 minutes after the fire started, I already had a dozen calls and messages saying whatever you need, we’re here for you.”

While Owen comes up with his plan to move, he helps Bearden and the others.

“We’re setting up a GoFundMe for other business owners inside this building that were affected more than us,” Owen said. “We’ll try to use Melinda’s place as a rallying point to help them get back on their feet.”

Melinda was spared the most from this fire. However, our friends and neighbors here at the strip mall have lost…

Posted by Melinda’s Cafe & Coffee on Friday, January 13, 2023

Bearden said she is happy to be a part of a loving community.

“I’m so grateful for all the help,” Bearden said. “It’s going to be in my mind, it’s going to be hard to rebuild, but I don’t think so with the amazing community we have.”

According to the Fountain Lake Fire Chief, the fire is still under investigation, but they believe the fire in the more than 50-year-old building was an electrical fire.

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