Building ravaged by fire

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

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ALBANY, Ga. -- Firefighters pumped water from 110 feet in the air down on a blaze that ripped through the abandoned Shoney's restaurant on the 1900 block of East Oglethorpe Boulevard Friday.

Using the ladder on one of their aerial trucks allowed firefighters to push more than 1,000 gallons of water a minute onto the flames engulfing the building at about 3:30 p.m. Thick black smoke rose heavily into the sky while the fire raged.

No injuries were reported at the fire scene behind Captain D's restaurant. Albany Fire Department officials estimated the restaurant had stood vacant for more than 5 years.

"The building was unoccupied for several years. It had no electric and no gas in it," said Clarence Haynes, fire department battalion chief. "The arson investigator is on the way. We don't think anyone was inside."

Haynes said the flames were intense when firefighters arrived. The extreme heat and flames caused the roof on the single-story building to collapse into it.

Firefighters would stay on the scene for hours making sure hot spots and embers were out and didn't flare up again, said Deputy Chief Ron Rowe. The arson investigation could also take hours.

The Albany Police Department handled traffic and crowds at the scene. Many people at the scene took pictures and video with an assortment of cell phones.

Cell phone calls may have congested 911 as many people at the scene said they had called the fire in when they saw the flames.

As the smoke and flames died down to nearly nothing at 4:30 p.m., a man standing in the parking lot of the Econo Lodge Inn & Suites next to the destroyed restaurant led some people on the motel's balcony in applause.

"C'mon -- lets hear it for the firemen," said Jeffrey Bryant. "They did a real good job."