Owner, Tenant on Elberta Fire

Hot spots still smoking today.
Hot spots still smoking today.
The Toombs County landmark burned last night.
The Toombs County landmark burned last night.

The last 24 hours haven't been kind to Paul Mead, owner of a building that burned down in Lyons, Georgia, last night. "It was heart-wrenching," he said.

As his historic building, the Elberta, got reduced to ashes, his wife's children's store was one casualty. "I just know it was engulfed in flames when I got here," he told us.

Hours earlier, he had to take his two-and-a-half-year-old son to a Savannah hospital. "My son was diagnosed with leukemia. So we've had that battle to deal with."

Mia Sager owned an income tax business in the Elberta, and Friday is the first day to file taxes. "That was all my files, ten years worth of client files," she told us. "I couldn't come up here and watch it last night, it was too much."

Firefighters still have problems they are dealing with. There are hot spots, there's a natural gas leak and the building is made out of fat lighter, a wood used as kindling for fireplaces.

Until they can deal with these problems, investigators say they may not be able to get into the building to find out what caused the fire.

"I'm sick to my stomach, I can't eat," said Sager.

"To have to deal with is just a little overwhelming," said Mead. "We wonder sometimes whether God has a plan for us."

The good news is that Mead's little boy is getting better. The leukemia is in remission. The bad news is that the Elberta may be gone forever. "It's tough," said Mead. "But we're going to make it."

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com