Updated:SPALDING COUNTY, Ga.,None —
A fire at a coffee house nearly shut down Griffin’s entire historic downtown district Monday night.
The fire started shortly before 11 p.m. at the Safe House coffee shop on South Hill Street. When Griffin firefighters arrived, there was smoke coming from the three-story building. Griffin Fire Chief Tommy Jones said several customers and employees had tried to put out the fire with fire extinguishers, but they were unsuccessful.
“But they managed to get out safely,” Jones said.
He said firefighters went into defensive mode to stop the fire from spreading. Meanwhile, city police officers shut down much of the area. A nearby business owner said the flames could have spread quickly.
“These buildings are so old. They could take out a block easily,” business owner Rick Blackshire said.
Firefighters saved much of the building, though it was heavily damaged and the roof collapsed.
"This is a real heartbreaker for us. Downtown, we struggle, and it just breaks our heart to see something like this happen," Blackshear said.
Firefighters were monitoring hot spots several hours later. Jones said investigators would look into the cause of the fire when the sun comes up. He said the fire was probably accidental and possibly electrical, according to initial reports.