-- Valdosta, Ga. -- December 6, 2012 --
Around one o'clock Wednesday afternoon this store in the 22 hundred block of Bemiss Road caught fire.
Tara Smith witnessed the fire. She said "we came outside and there was just huge black clouds of smoke. And then it started to get bigger and bigger."
The cause of the fire is being investigated by the Valdosta Fire Department. Multiple witnesses expressed concern about how the fire started.
Another eyewitness, Thaddeus Palmer, said "we didn't see anybody over there. It kind of felt like somebody set the place on fire."
The store used to be called Carroll's Corner Thrift Shop. It's been available for lease for the last couple of weeks. Less than 4 minutes after the fire started, 4 fire engines arrived on the scene.
A top priority was preventing the fire from spreading to the Crestwood nursing home directly behind the store. Fire investigators have confirmed that arson is not being ruled out.
Valdosta Fire Chief, J.D. Rice, said "we are going to follow the leads that we do have and talk with the workers that were last known to be in the structure to ascertain from them what they know."
The building sustained more than a hundred thousand dollars in damage.
We spoke with the owner of the building, Roger Budd. He owns several properties throughout Lowndes County and says he plans to to cooperate fully with authorities. He also said he intends to rebuild the store.