Fire At UA Little Rock Disrupts KLRE-KUAR Operations, Sequoyah Collection Is Safe

Aug 14, 2020

Little Rock firefighters enter University Plaza Friday afternoon to put out a blaze that caused smoke damage to the public radio stations and the Sequoyah National Research Center.
Credit Ryan Gregory / KUAR News

UPDATED AT 7:30 p.m.

A fire Friday afternoon damaged part of a building at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock that houses KUAR and KLRE, the Sequoyah National Research Center and campus police. No one was injured in the blaze at University Plaza, which was eventually extinguished by the Little Rock Fire Department.

Officials say the fire started in a janitorial closet toward the back of the building, with that area being extensively charred. The Sequoyah Center, which houses rare Native American materials, and the radio stations sustained only smoke damage.

Erin Fehr, an archivist at the center, said its collection of materials is safe because everything was stored in protective cases.

"I felt so much better after going in and looking with my own eyes. No water damage or fire damage, just smoke damage," Fehr said. "There’s a layer of soot over every surface, but I do feel much better."

UA Little Rock Public Safety reported the fire was accidental. During roughly the same time period that the fire started, a rock was thrown through a window at the university’s Human Resources office, which is located in a different building, but also near the south side of the campus. UA Little Rock Police say the person who threw the rock was arrested.

The university is using a disaster recovery company to oversee the cleanup in the coming days. KUAR and KLRE will be operated remotely through the weekend and on Monday. When the stations resume normal operations will depend on the status of the cleanup.

The Little Rock Fire Department uses a ladder to examine the roof of the building after the fire was extinguished.
Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Power went off during the fire, but the stations remained on the air with battery backups running automated network programming. KUAR was not able to broadcast Gov. Asa Hutchinson's daily briefing Friday on the coronavirus pandemic and likely won't be able to air Monday's briefing.