Two fires in Habersham and White counties over the last twenty-four hours left businesses with major damages, but fortunately no one was hurt in either incident.
Around 5:30 a.m. Friday Morning, Wolf Creek Barbeque in Cornelia, a community staple, caught fire when the outside smoker began to overheat. Temperature gauges inside the restaurant alerted owner Mike Roberson of an issue in the external smokehouse.
"The smoker caught on fire and, of course, that caught the smokehouse on fire and then it eventually just spread to the main building," Roberson said.
Fire crews from Cornelia, Habersham, Demorest and Lee Arrendale responded quickly, according to Cornelia Fire Chief Billy Joe Jenkins, and had the blaze put out in a little over an hour. Jenkins says he expects the building to be a total loss, although a total assessment of damages is yet to be conducted.
Regardless, Roberson says his barbeque will be back, it just depends on where.
"We'll just sort of have to look and see," Roberson says, "are we going to be able to open up back here or open up somewhere else but we will open back up."
Cornelia Community Development Manager Jessie Owensby says she's already on the hunt for a new location in case Roberson makes the decision to move. She got caught in the early morning detour as crews still worked the scene on North Main Street and was immediately saddened for the community.
"It's always really tough when you do the job that I do and you get really close to all of these businesses," Owensby said. "You kind of feel like you're their older sister and so when something happens like that it's not just the one business; it's our whole community and it's devastating for all of us."
INVESTIGATION CONTINUES IN LARGE LUMBER YARD FIRE
A mere twenty-four before the blaze at Wolf Creek, several buildings were destroyed in a massive commercial fire that broke out early Thursday morning in Cleveland.
Officials say around three-million board feet of lumber was lost in the blaze at North Georgia Hardwoods.
The company is expected to meet with its insurance company today to begin going over the cost of damages.
Meanwhile, investigators were hoping the remnants had cooled enough for them to begin looking into what caused the early morning blaze. The scene was still too hot for the State Fire Marshal’s Office and Cleveland Fire Investigator Jason Davis to begin work yesterday.
Although no one was hurt, a driver of one of the company’s lumber trucks narrowly escaped injury after falling asleep inside the cab of his truck outside one of the buildings that was ablaze. He was able to escape before the wood on the truck caught fire.