Hours after flames destroyed a Bibb County family’s home, firefighters were out again early Tuesday morning at a blaze that has temporarily closed Caliente’s Burrito Shop at 6255 Zebulon Road.
Owner Cal Garretson said he will be closed for the “foreseeable future.”
Macon-Bibb County fire crews responded to the fire in the Plantation Village shopping center near the Kohl’s store about 4:30 a.m. The blaze ignited in a back of the restaurant and was knocked down by the sprinkler system before firefighters arrived, said Cliff Rushin, assistant fire chief.
“The fire department was just phenomenal getting here and getting everything taken care of and cleaning up,” Garretson said.
Sgt. Ben Gleaton, a fire investigator for the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department, said the fire started around some towels in the storage area that sustained moderate fire damage.
The smoke and water damage is what is keeping the restaurant from opening. Garretson said paper clogged drains causing the water to puddle in the building.
Water damaged the neighboring Pink Physique gym as other businesses on the strip are linked by sprinkler systems, Rushin said.
Gym co-owner Alli Kerr said she was able to keep operating while firefighters were still on the scene.
“I had a client at 5 a.m., so we trained outside,” Kerr said. “We’re managing around all the hoses and dehumidifiers. We have a mess back there.”
The gym’s treadmills were put on the sidewalk as crews worked to clean up the water damage.
The chaos didn’t deter hungry Caliente’s patrons who arrived for lunch but were turned way.
“Somebody asked us if we were going to have a smoked chicken special,” said Garretson, who expects to be closed up to two weeks.
“Hopefully, it won’t be too long.”
Power can’t be restored until the restaurant is dried out and cleaned, he said. Caliente’s must have a food inspector’s approval to reopen.
When the call came in on the restaurant, firefighters already had spent hours at a large house fire at 5317 Valley Forge Road near Brandywine Drive off Tucker Road.
A mother and her three children made it safely out of the burning A-frame house after they discovered the fire.
“She saw the fire coming out of the mechanical closet,” Gleaton said.
The family’s two dogs perished in the fire, Gleaton said.
Firefighters didn’t have much chance of saving the house.
“It was totally involved when they got on the scene,” Rushin said.
The home burned rapidly.
“If you have that much fire and all that glass, it goes up pretty quickly,” Rushin said. “It kind of acts like a vertical chimney.”
Both fires Tuesday are believed to be accidental.
To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.