Road Pro Gas Explosion and Fire
On a fall day in 1987 the Eureka Springs Fire Department was dispatched to a report of an explosion at the Road Pro auto parts store on Van Buren Avenue. The fire and ensuing inferno proved to be a challenge for the department’s personnel.
Overnight a leaking gas main caused a gas build up in the basement of the store. Investigators believe that a heater ignited the gas and caused the initial blast at 10:00 A.M. The blast tore an eight foot by ten foot hole in the concrete wall at the rear of the store. Ironically, two of the department’s volunteer firefighters were inside. Tracy Conners was purchasing a part from the store manager at the time of the incident. According to witnesses, a fireball came roaring from the back of the store. The manager dove over the counter and dashed for the front door behind Conners. He received second degree burns to his arms and face.
The Eureka Springs Fire Department had a quick response from half a block away but quickly realized that this was no ordinary fire. The gas fed blaze resisted efforts at extinguishment. A second explosion blew out the front of the store, shooting a ball of fire across the highway and burning through the power lines on the opposite side. Power, phone, and gas service was out for the rest of the day.
The store was a total loss. The site of the fire is now the south end of the driveway for Cornerstone Bank on Van Buren Avenue next to McDonalds.