Police & Fire

Officer’s swift action saves Arkadelphia plaza from inferno

By EMMA MILNER | City of Arkadelphia

Cpl. Blaine Funderburk

There could have been a fireworks show in Arkadelphia early Monday morning, but not the kind anyone would want to attend.

A fire broke out inside the Mr. Suds Laundromat sometime after 1 a.m. on Monday, May 15. Mr. Suds is located in the same plaza as the Sherwin-Williams paint store. If certain paints catch on fire, it can act as a catalyst for fires to spread, all while releasing toxic chemicals which are dangerous for those in the area.

At approximately 1:30 a.m., Arkadelphia Police Officer Cpl. Blaine Funderburk was patrolling the area when he says he smelled something burning.

“It was a nice night so I had my window down while I was patrolling the area,” Funderburk said. “I smelled something burning and I thought, ‘that’s not brush.’ I knew something was off.” It was at that moment Funderburk began circling the block trying to identify where the smell was coming from.

“I went to turn around in the Arby’s parking lot, and that’s when I saw all the smoke and [fire alarm] lights flashing inside Mr. Suds,” Funderburk said. Within minutes of his spotting the fire, the Arkadelphia Fire Department was onsite. Firefighters were able to put out the fire using minimal amounts of water, preventing further damage to the rest of the building.

“Corporal Funderburk’s actions saved not one, but multiple businesses Monday morning,” City Manager Gary Brinkley said. “I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am to be the city manager for such a proactive group of employees who truly care about their jobs and those they serve. Corporal Funderburk is the embodiment of that, and we are grateful to have him on our team.”

No injuries were reported in this incident. AFD determined the cause of the fire to be an overheated dryer unit. Due to AFD’s quick response, Mr. Suds was able to reopen its doors Monday night.