Cherokee County

Cherokee shooting range, venue owner devastated after fire destroys business, but vows to rebuild

CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. — Cherokee County fire officials are investigating a fire that destroyed the lodge of a popular shooting range and special events venue.

Investigators say at 4:17 a.m. on Thursday, crews received calls of a possible fire at Garland Mountain Sporting Clays & Grill on Garland Mountain Trail outside Waleska.

When crews arrived, most of the building had collapsed, with fire reaching a nearby fleet of golf carts. Officials added that the fire had also extended to the woods surrounding the property.

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Nobody was hurt, and investigators are figuring out what started the fire.

“It hit home very quickly because the devastation is pretty bad,” owner Jack Chevalier said. “It’s very popular in the community with families and corporate events. On the weekends, the place is packed with families.”

The building that burned had been open since 2016 and housed a restaurant, a store, and a wedding and special events venue.

“It’s been eight years of my life building this place, so to get a call at 4:30 in the morning telling you things aren’t good up there, it’s not the news you want to hear,” Chevalier said.


Lt. Michael Sims of the Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services said firefighters from Pickens County and the Georgia Forestry Commission helped extinguish the fire.

“We are up here in a mountainous area of our county, so the response getting big large fire trucks up here does take some time,” he said.

Crews had to truck in their water supply.

“There’s not fire hydrants up here on the property, so our fire trucks did operate a water shuttle,” Sims said. “We dispatched additional fire engines to keep that water coming.”

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He said since guns were lost in the fire, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is also involved in the investigation.

Chevalier said he plans to rebuild.

“My intention is 100% to get her back up and running as quick as we possibly can,” he said. “This place is extremely busy. It’s been well received by the community. We have long-term clients. I’m getting text after text from our members.”

“There was a lot of sweat and tears that went into this place,” he said. “A lot.”