Friday December 2nd, 2022 8:30AM

Chief: Fire that destroyed landmark Hartwell restaurant was electrical

By Rob Moore Reporter

The overnight fire that destroyed WillaDean’s Tavern in Hartwell recently has been ruled accidental.


“Our joint investigation included fire investigators from our department, the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the insurance company,” a statement from Fire Chief Alan Daniel issued Sunday reads. “The insurance company also brought in a third party investigator and an electrical engineer.”


Daniel had refrained from issuing a statement until all investigations were complete.


“All investigations concluded the same thing which is accidental and it starting in the wiring trough of the original electrical service within the building,” the statement reads. “The fire and arcing within the system extended from the trough and ignited nearby combustibles. The fire then traveled to the attic and followed the roof truss to the ridge.”


Because the fire happened overnight, it went undetected until it was too late to save the structure.


“During the investigation we were able to obtain footage from the camera system that showed the fire burned for close to three hours before it broke through where a gentleman spotted it from the first bridge on Reed Creek Road on his way to work and notified 9-1-1,” the statement reads.


“The structure did not have a fire sprinkler system or a fire detection system and neither was required when the structure was built,” the statement reads. 

“This was a devastating loss to the owners, the employees, patrons and our community,” the statement reads. “We have heard countless stories since the fire from individuals recalling memories of the building and the restaurants that have occupied it and it is evident that it affected the lives of so many within our community.”

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Business News, Local/State News, Georgia News
  • Associated Tags: Hartwell, Lake Hartwell, Hartwell Fire Department, Hart County, WillaDean’s Tavern
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