PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. - Video taken by a customer at the Walmart in Peachtree City shows the moments after a fire started inside the store. It sparked a 4-alarm response by firefighters on Wednesday evening.
Officials say firefighters responded around 7:20 p.m. to a report of a fire at 2717 Georgia Highway 54. Another alert was given to firefighters when the sprinklers went off in an attempt to begin to suppress the blaze.
Peachtree City police officers were the first at the scene. They went into the building to see if they were able to put out the fire, but were overcome by smoke. Some of those officers had to be taken to the hospital. It was not immediately known how many or how severe their smoke inhalation was.
Firefighters arrived soon after to find a rack of merchandise on a back row of the store ablaze. The flames at that point had been licking at the roof for a few minutes and had begun to make it unstable.
"While fighting the fire with a large amount of water, they report the structural members from the roof began to collapse on them, so the decision was made to back out and the incident commander made the decision to go defensive and fight the fire from the outside of the building," said Peachtree City Fire Department Assistant Chief Wil Harbin.
Eventually, a portion of the roof collapsed.
Meanwhile, crews worked to ensure the structure was completely evacuated before firefighters also pulled out due to the danger.
Some social media posts show the fire burning inside the store and employees evacuating customers.
This image shared with FOX 5 shows a fire spreading inside the Peachtree City Walmart on August 24, 2022. (Courtesy: Samuel Humphries)
FOX 5 viewers reported seeing thick, black smoke coming from the area and which could be seen for miles away.
FFirefighters from surrounding areas, including Fayette, Fayette County, Newnan, and Coweta County were asked to respond and assist.
Many firefighters were seen having to go into rehab because of the intensive heat of the late Georgia summer.
It took crews well into the evening to get the fire under control and eventually out. Firefighters were hitting hot spots well into the evening.
There were no reports of injuries among the staff or customers in the store.
The full extent of the damage was not immediately known.
Officials were asking drivers to avoid the area for the rest of Wednesday evening. All lanes along Highway 54 at Planterra Way and the Walmart entrance were shutdown to allow firefighters access. Police were directing eastbound traffic into Peachtree City off Hwy. 54 at Macduff Parkway to Senoia Rd. and back to Hwy. 54. Westbound traffic out of Peachtree City was being rerouted Highway 74 to Senoia Rd. to Macduff to Highway 54 west.
Arson investigators did respond to the scene, but the cause of the blaze was still under investigation.
Public safety officials are asking the public's help with the investigation. They are asking anyone who may have seen something at the Walmart ot reach out to Peachtree City Police Sgt. Brad Milstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.