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Lighthouse fire still under investigation

By Kay S. Pedrotti Southern-style fish and seafood lovers are in shock ‘“ Milner’s Lighthouse Restaurant at 1402 Old Highway 41 burned down last Tuesday. No one was in the building, and firefighters had no injuries. It was the only large Lamar County food service establishment dedicating 95% of its menu to dishes featuring creatures that swim. Sources say the 8,500-square-foot restaurant has been in business for about 30 years, first owned by J.M. Bedsole and now by his daughter, Sherry Wise. Joe Bostwick, mayor of Milner, described his friend Wise as looking ‘like she was lost in the woods, in shock’ the morning after the fire. Investigators with the state fire marshal’s office have been combing the rubble since last Wednesday but have not released information about the cause of the fire, said Lamar County fire chief Steve Andrews. ’We’ll continue to look at photos and what’s left of the restaurant, but how long a conclusion might take we don’t know,’ he said. Andrews said the first call came in at 5:07 p.m. July 10; first on the scene was a medical unit from Mid-Georgia Ambulance whose personnel, Ryan Rooks and Adam Andrews, started preparing a fire hydrant at the south end of the property for firefighters they knew were coming. Thick gray smoke obscured the front of the building and reduced highway visibility to zero. Lamar County Engine 1 with Bill Reeder and crew and Ladder 12 from Barnesville with Josh Campbell’s team arrived, he added, and all the units’ equipment was used during the large fire. The blaze was constantly fueled by large quantities of peanut and other oils, stored in fryers and other large containers in preparation for serving food on Wednesday. ’Lamar County had plenty of water from the Milner hydrant and one at the north end that was Lamar County’s, and plenty of equipment, but we very quickly ran out of soldiers, even though the majority of our firefighters turned out and worked hard through the night,’ said Andrews. ’In a situation like that, in that temperature with air tanks and bunker gear, you’re good for about 20 minutes. Then it’s rest, rehydrate, eat an energy bar and go back for another 20 minutes.’ The incident gathered firefighters and equipment from Meansville, Pike County, Griffin, Spalding County, Forsyth and Monroe County, said the fire chief. Some of the mutual aid equipment deployed to other Lamar and Barnesville locations to cover for the local crews, Andrews said, but Lamar’s other engines were standing by. ’What we needed from the other departments was people,’ he said. ‘We had everything we needed on the engine and ladder truck, plus our air-light truck, to fight the fire.’ Despite putting down several flare-ups during the night, the building was still smoldering at 8 a.m. Wednesday. The fire chief expressed thanks to Dollar General in Milner for providing water and ice to firefighters. He said he was grateful Sheriff Larry Waller worked alongside commissioner Nancy Thrash in the rehab area as deputies controlled traffic and onlookers. ’It was big but it was handled because of teamwork by our firefighters and those from the surrounding area,’ the fire chief said. ’There’s no way one department could have done what we did and we’re very thankful for our mutual aid partners.’

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