Fire on roof damages Jefferson Regional specialty hospital construction

Smoke rises from the Jefferson Regional specialty hospital in White Hall after it catches on fire Tuesday afternoon. (Special to The Commercial)

A fire started on the roof of the new Jefferson Regional specialty hospital building under construction in White Hall on Tuesday afternoon.

White Hall firefighters received a call about the fire at 4:30 p.m., Fire Chief Sandy Castleberry said. Departments from Pine Bluff, the Pine Bluff Arsenal, Hardin, Watson Chapel and Redfield responded to provide mutual aid, he said.

The fire was contained within 20 minutes, Castleberry said. Hospital spokeswoman Wendy Talbot said all worksite personnel were accounted for and no serious injuries were sustained.

Black smoke could be seen rising from the building, located behind Jefferson Regional's Wellness Center on West Holland Avenue, just off Exit 32 on Interstate 530. One construction worker suffered minor injuries and refused medical care, according to Castleberry.

The cause of the fire is believed to be accidental, but is still under investigation, Castleberry added.

"I'm very thankful for the other departments that responded," he said. "This was a big fire. I'm proud of the guys for their quick response to get it knocked down."

Construction work will remain paused while damage is evaluated and next steps are determined, Talbot said.

Jefferson Regional is constructing a $55-million, 84,000-square-foot specialty hospital with plans to house 40 inpatient rehabilitation beds and 36 behavioral health unit beds. The facility is to be completed by early 2024, but it is not immediately known how the fire might impact the timeline.

LifePoint Health, which manages the inpatient rehab program, is set to control 40% of ownership in the specialty hospital, with Jefferson Regional owning the other 60%, according to an October article on the groundbreaking of the facility.

  photo  A White Hall fire truck contains a fire at the Jefferson Regional specialty hospital under construction Tuesday in White Hall. (Special to The Commercial/Deborah Horn)