LaFayette Fire Services, along with assisting agencies, responded to a commercial fire early Friday morning in LaFayette. Official are investigating to decide if it was an act of arson.
According to Fire Chief Stacey Meeks, around 2 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 30, firefighters responded to the latest suspicious commercial fire at the former Don Lolo Mexican Restaurant/former Dinner Bell in LaFayette.
The empty commercial structure still had active electrical power at its 202 South Main Street location, Meeks said.
Meeks said the Morgan Motel, which is attached to the structure, had to be evacuated during the fire as a precautionary measure.
The fire is suspicious in nature, Meeks said.
The State Fire Marshal will be at the scene on Monday, Oct. 2, to investigate for possible arson. Arson is not deemed the cause at this time, but it is not being ruled out.
In recent weeks, witnesses have observed suspicious activity around the building that would indicate the possibility of squatters using the building as a shelter.
Meeks credits the quick response from his firefighters as well as the assistance from the Walker County Emergency Services and Walker Correctional Fire Services, who all worked together to contain the fire and keep it from spreading. Around 30 firefighters made quick response to put out the blaze early Saturday morning.
Firefighters fought the two-story blaze for around four hours, Meeks said.
No injuries occurred, Meeks said.
Meeks thanks the quick response from his firefighters and the assisting agencies.
Arson activity as of recent
This latest fire draws similarities to the recent rash of arson fires within the city with the latest being on July 4.
Arson was the cause of a late night fire on July 4 at an abandoned law office in downtown LaFayette.
The fire was deliberately set and prompted city officials to call for additional investigators to come investigate this fire and other recent fires within the city.
The LaFayette Police Department and LaFayette Fire Services are working with the Georgia State Fire Marshal, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI), and the ATF during these arson investigations.
In June, firefighters responded to an arson fire at Hammond Jones Hardware located at 110 North Main Street.
A witness saw fire coming from the southwest side of the business and immediately called Walker County 911. The structure received minimal damage.
Police report that on May 26, firefighters were dispatched to 211 Villanow Street — at about 1:30 a.m. — to battle a blaze at an abandoned house near the LaFayette Cemetery entrance. Investigators ruled arson as the cause of that fire.
And in early May 2017, the fire at a vacant two-story house at 304 Simmons St. was also deemed arson.
Meeks said this recent commercial building fire is suspicious in nature, but investigators will not be able to determine whether this was another case of arson until the fire marshal arrives on Monday, Oct. 2.
Anyone with information or who might have witnessed suspicious activity in that area early Saturday morning is asked to call the LaFayette Police Department at 706-639-1540.