Fire guts Fort Valley business

jmink@macon.comNovember 26, 2012 

FORT VALLEY -- A handful of workers swept rubble and ashes inside a Fort Valley business Monday, hours after a fire gutted the building.

Owner Hilton Smith was inside his office at HLS Cabinets at 418 S. Camellia Blvd. when he heard a small explosion around 9 a.m.

“Nobody actually saw it,” said Smith, of Crawford County. “When I went to where it was, there was a pretty good flame. ... We had a little fire, and it turned into a big fire.”

Smith said he did not know the cause of the fire, and fire officials were still investigating the cause Monday evening, said Lawrence Spurgeon, Fort Valley public safety director. There were no injuries.

But Smith’s business was a total loss, he said. Smoke still drifted from the gray, metal building at 11 a.m., and the 400 block of South Camellia Boulevard was closed as firefighters surrounded the building. Firefighters from both the Peach County and Fort Valley fire departments responded.

A few hours later, the inside of the building was black and charred, with a few pieces of cabinets visible from the outside. Smith has operated his custom cabinet business out of that building since 1996.

“We’ll salvage a little bit,” he said.

A worker at the neighboring M Supply Co., who declined to give his name, said he was working when he saw the fire.

“We just saw guys running out of the building with fire and smoke behind them,” he said.

Smith declined to comment on whether he had insurance. While there are no immediate plans to reopen, Smith said he expects the business to continue.

“We plan on keeping it going,” he said.

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751

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