- Associated Press - Monday, September 21, 2015

FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) - The Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority has filed a lawsuit against the federal government over a 2011 fire that destroyed a World War II-era hospital complex.

The authority filed the lawsuit Sept. 9, alleging that members of the Kentucky National Guard’s 138th Fires Brigade caused the blaze and that the federal government is responsible for the guard members’ actions. The lawsuit is seeking $650,000 for the destruction of 111 buildings, plus the cost of cleanup and remediation.

According to officials, the fire on Aug. 3, 2011 was sparked by cigarettes that were tossed into tinder-dry weeds by Kentucky National Guard members who sneaked onto the hospital complex. The blaze burned all night because firefighters weren’t able to battle the flames due to the closeness of the buildings and the lack of an adequate water supply.

At the time of the fire, the Kentucky National Guard’s 138th Fires Brigade was training at the Fort Chaffee Joint Maneuver Training Center, which is operated by the Arkansas National Guard.

The Kentucky National Guard didn’t respond to a request for comment Friday by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1NOwYOw ). Lt. Col. Keith Moore, a public affairs officer with the Arkansas National Guard, said attorneys representing the guard declined to comment because they haven’t seen the lawsuit.

The authority submitted a claim for payment over the damage to the Army Claims Service in October 2011, but it was denied in July 2014.

A request for reconsideration filed in January was denied in March.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com


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