***UPDATED at 12:42 P.M. on Monday, February 29th***
Augusta GA (WJBF) - The cause of the fire that heavily damaged the Macaroni Grill restaurant in the Augusta Exchange shopping center early Monday morning is still unknown as investigators are digging through this debris trying to find the source.
The fire burned for more than seven hours, and fighting the fire was made more difficult, because the building's roof collapsed.
"Firefighting efforts was going real good, but undoubtedly from what I could tell, the smoke was in the attic or the fire was in the attic and it kept running from one place to another. Finally, a breach from the side of the wall cracked. When the wall cracked, I pulled everybody out of the building," said Battalion Chief Bryan McFeely, of the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department.
The cracked wall lead to the roof collapsing, which caused the fire to be trapped inside. The roof collapse made it harder for firefighters to fight the blaze, becuase they couldn't get to the source.
"The inside of it is a mess. It's hard to get around it because the ceiling's collapsed and the roof is collapsed on top of that, so you've got pancaked voids in there," Chief McFeely added.
In an attempt to reach the buried fire, firefighters used a backhoe to break down the already damaged surrounding walls. "The one on the back, an hour into the fire, you could see it leaning, and we've went ahead and pushed it down with the ladders, the streams from the ladders. We pushed it on out of the building, but all the rest of them, from what I can see, are still intact," said Chief McFeely.
Fire Department investigators have already deemed the building a total loss.
While the building is a total loss, fortunately, nobody was injured.Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA is offering assistance to Macaroni Grill displaced by the fire.
Count on WJBF News Channel 6 to keep following this story, and we will have updates during our 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. newscasts, as well as here on our website.
***UPDATED at 8:01 A.M. on Monday, February 29th***
Augusta GA (WJBF) - Fire department officials say the roof of the Macaroni Grill restaurant collapsed during an early Monday morning fire.
The collapse left debris on the point of the fire's origin, making it difficult to put out.
The Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department is using machinery to move the debris to put out the remaining remnants of the fire. Some walls are still structurally stable, but the building is believed to be "lost".
There is still no word on what caused the fire.
We will continue to follow this developing story throughout the day and provide the latest information as it becomes available.
***POSTED at 2:11 A.M. and UPDATED at 6:21 A.M. on Monday, February 29th***
Augusta GA (WJBF) - Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department crews are battling a fire at the Macaroni Grill restaurant located at the Augusta Exchange shopping center. The call came in just before 1:30 a.m. Monday morning.
Officials on the scene tell us that the call came in as a structure fire and what appeared to be just smoke quickly turned into a blaze, consuming most of the restaurant.
Due to the size of the fire and the number of trucks being used, roads in the area immediately surrounding the restaurant are blocked. If you are commuting through the area, please choose a different route.
Few other details are know at this time, but smoke and flames could be seen Monday morning on our Jiffy Lube Skyview Network Camera.
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