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Trespassers suspected in Majestic Hotel fire

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) - Hot Springs' fire chief says the fire that destroyed the Majestic Hotel was likely set by trespassers, but that the cause may never be determined because it wasn't safe to send investigators inside the building before it was torn down.

Fire Chief Ed Davis says investigators believe the Feb. 27 fire was likely set by either "urban explorers" or homeless people who were inside the abandoned building on a regular basis. Davis tells The Sentinel-Record that someone may have set the fire to keep warm, not as an attempt to burn the building down.

Davis says he decided not to send firefighters inside the building during the blaze because of safety concerns - so he chose not to send fire marshals in afterward.

More Majestic Hotel headlines:

Woman arrested for leaving child in car at Oaklawn

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) – On Monday, Hot Springs police were alerted that a child was left in a vehicle at Oaklawn.

The child was found with no shoes or socks on in freezing temperatures. The child was removed from the vehicle, and told police that her mother was inside Oaklawn.

The mother, Mandy Wilson, of North Little Rock was arrested and faces a charge of Endangering Welfare of a Minor.

THV11 learned Thursday that Wilson was not the only one accused of this in recent days. According to a Hot Springs police report, an off-duty officer was notified last Wednesday that two children, ages 7 and 1, were in a vehicle in the Oaklawn parking lot around 7 p.m. while the outside temperature was in the mid-30s.

Majestic Hotel Cleanup Could Take Months

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) - The City of Hot Springs is trying to get the Majestic Hotel cleaned up as soon as possible. But we've learned it could end up taking months.

The property owner is responsible for the cleanup, but a lot needs to happen before anything can be hauled out. Officials are continuing to meet trying to get this cleaned up as soon as possible.

Cars continue to pass by the Majestic Hotel. Some people are no longer showing interest. Others still want to capture what is left.

"Looks like there is a lot of steel," said Mike McHenry with McHenry Excavating.

But for Mike McHenry and his son, they want to get all this debris out of here for the property owner.

"Carpet, drapes, two by fours, bricks, roofing materials," said McHenry.

McHenry says the job could take about one to two months.

Mountain Valley Water acquired by Great Range Capital

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) - Our partners at Arkansas Business have reported that Mountain Valley Spring Water has new owners.

An investment group out of Kansas City bought the historic Hot Springs company. Terms of the deal have not been released.

Mountain Valley Spring Water was first sold in the late 1800s.

For the full story from Arkansas Business, click here.

Why the Majestic Hotel fire may not be solved

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) – Five days after the historic Majestic Hotel in Hot Springs caught on fire, the fire chief admits people may never know who caused the loss of the landmark.

Hot Springs Fire Chief Ed Davis said Tuesday that someone is responsible for starting the fire, and while some people have taken public responsibility for the arson, those comments haven't been deemed valid; Davis said there have been no solid leads pointing to the party involved.

"Are we looking at some of the homeless people, the urban adventurers, people in the truther community? Well absolutely we are," Davis said.

But while authorities are working to investigate the case, Davis said it may be too dangerous to solve.

Old Baxter Hotel in Hot Springs catches fire

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) - The old Baxter Hotel in Hot Springs caught fire Tuesday morning, though details are not known at this time.

The Baxter, located at 215 Cottage Street, consists of three two-story buildings which had been boarded up. THV's Rolly Hoyt, who is on scene, said nobody was in the building and there are no reports of injuries. While it hasn't been confirmed what time the fire started, THV first received reports of the fire at about 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Hoyt adds just before noon Tuesday that the building is owned by the Hot Springs advertising and promotions commission. They also are in charge of the Hot Springs Convention Center.

Initially, the commission wanted to tear down the building in 2012 but the request was tabled by the city board after protests by preservationists.

Ozark Bathhouse reopening in Hot Springs

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) - The National Park Service says the Ozark Bathhouse in Hot Springs is set to reopen this week.

The park service announced Monday that the bathhouse will become the home of the Hot Springs National Park Cultural Center and the new home of the Friends of Hot Springs National Park.

The Ozark was built in 1922 and is among historic structures on Bathhouse Row on Central Avenue that the Park Service is allowing to be repurposed for business use. The park service says the Ozark will now serve as an art gallery featuring the park's "Artist in Residence" art collection. It will also serve as a venue for park events and programs and be available for private events.

The bathhouse is set to reopen Friday.

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