Months of work reopening an east Macon convenience store went up in flames early Wednesday after looters torched the business.
“It’s burned pretty much inside. Everything is black,” said Peter Patel of Pacecar Express. “It’s bad.”
The store at 2243 Shurling Drive has been without power since Tropical Storm Irma brought winds up to 61 mph to Macon on Monday.
Macon-Bibb County firefighters were called shortly after 2 a.m. for what was initially reported as a grass fire, arson investigator Lt. Ben Gleaton said.
When crews from the nearby fire station arrived, the building was ablaze and already heavily damaged.
“It’s extensive,” Gleaton said before donning a mask to take another look inside. “It was contained inside the building, but it’s smoked up and burned really bad.”
It appears the burglars broke a window to get inside, according to a news release from the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office.
A trail of adult DVDs and other items lead back to the neighborhood off of New Clinton Road, and the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the burglary.
Cigarettes and cigars were stolen, and there is heavy fire near the front counter of the building that had been vacant for months.
“We just reopened about two months ago,” Patel said. “They tried to steal because there is no lights, no power. I don’t know how they got the fire on, probably left something burning inside.”
Cardboard signs announcing the store’s reopening were posted at the entrances.
“There’s a sign that says ‘New Store,’ but now it says arson,” Gleaton said.
Arson hotline posters announce a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arsonist. Anonymous tips can be phoned to 800-282-5804.