A passing thunderstorm sparked a fire Monday night in an old cotton mill in Forsyth.
Just after 8 p.m., firefighters were called to the Newton Mill Properties building on Adams Street, not far from the railroad tracks, Fire Chief David Herndon said.
"We feel positive that it was a lightning strike," Herndon said Tuesday morning. "We found where the lighting entered the building and started the contents underneath on fire."
The old cotton mill built in the mid-1800s was most recently used to manufacture yarn, but none of the machinery was destroyed as the flames were contained to a storage area loaded with plastic pallets, he said.
Flames were not shooting out of the roof, but thick smoke filled the building before firefighters arrived.
"It was a pretty dangerous situation because you could absolutely see nothing," Herndon said.
Firefighters had to travel through the smoke to find the source of the fire, which burned roughly 2,000 to 3,000 square feet of the 130,000-square-foot brick building.
The flames were under control by about 10:30 p.m., and crews stayed on the scene until about midnight.
Herndon expected the plant could be operational again.
"They need to check the electrical because lightning did hit it, and you can see where it took a couple of light fixtures off the ceiling," he said.
Monroe and Macon-Bibb county firefighters assisted at the scene, which is not far from the fire house.
Firefighters from the Georgia Department of Corrections were also on standby at the fire after battling a blaze of their own in Jackson.
"The biggest thing I'm thankful for is that no one got hurt, and everyone was able to go home to their families," Herndon said.