Arson investigators call fire suspicious -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Arson investigators call fire suspicious

December 12, 2005

Tifton- The doors at the Applebee's in Tifton will likely remain closed until the end of the year.

"About 4:30 early Saturday morning we received a call to our local Applebee's Restaurant. We had a fire over there," says Tifton fire chief Mike Flippo.

Though from the outside the structure appears unharmed, fire chief Mike Flippo says there is likely thousands of dollars in damage inside.

"There will be a large amount of dollar loss in that particular fire. Back in the main cooking area, which is approximately 40, to 50 percent of the building there was heavy fire damage. Of course along with that fire damage the rest of the building received heavy smoke and heat damage throughout," he says.

Fortunately, the restaurant was closed and no employees or customers were inside. Authorities are still trying to determine the cause, but are calling the fire suspicious. They say it started in two separate places, in the kitchen and the laundry room.

"When you've got a fire of that magnitude, commercial property, we automatically call in the state fire/arson investigator, and of course our local police detectives are working together to try to solve what happened over there," Flippo says.

Applebee's Area director Dave Beever says most of the 70 workers have been transferred to restaurants in Albany, Moultrie and Valdosta. The corporation as well as other employees have already donated more than $5,000 to help affected workers. Beever says the company will do all it can to find work for all employees during what will be a lengthy clean up period.

The state fire marshals office is offering a $10,000 reward for information in the case. Anyone with information should contact the Tifton police at 229-382-3132.