A Toombs County landmark is gone after an all-night fire. It happened in Lyons at the corner of Highway 280 and US 1. The blaze destroyed an old hotel that now housed apartments and offices.
The good news is everyone made it out alive. But from people losing their homes to the lost history, the sadness burned as high as the flames.
As her home and a piece of Lyons history burned, Ashley Deal will never forget this wedding anniversary. She called her husband when she saw flames in the Elberta Hotel where they lived.
"I saw the back half of the building on fire," she told us. "I called and was like, 'Jamie, you need to get you and Tony out of there, the place is on fire.'"
That was around 8:30pm last night as flames quickly stretched to the sky.
"By the time I got to town in a matter of four minutes, it was already out the roof," said Chief Darel Corley of Lyons Fire Department. "It was quick."
Crews from every fire station in Toombs County and a few from beyond did what they could to protect surrounding buildings, because the historic structure was beyond help. Bit by bit, walls and floors collapsed as Corley and fire crews hoped it would. They said the rubble would be safer the sooner it fell.
It still left some sad and sentimental. "It had people living upstairs and a couple of merchants downstairs," said Mayor John Moore. "You hate to see it going like this cause it's history being wasted."
Once a hot spot for travelers on US 1, the building was poised for major renovations. Now people can only remember what it was and what it could have been.
From the scene, we understand only one other person lived in the building beside the Deals. All three are looking for a place to live now.
Fire investigators will be there today waiting for the ashes to cool enough to get inside and see what happened.