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Cause of liquor store fire unknown
Plastic from toy cars fueled the blaze
Luis Ventura nails a board to cover a broken-out window at 129 Package Store on Athens Highway that was gutted by fire early Wednesday morning. - photo by Tom Reed

A commercial building on Athens Highway burned Wednesday morning in the latest in a spate of cold-weather fires.

When Gainesville firefighters responded at about 2 a.m. to a call from a passer-by, heavy smoke and flames were coming from a 4,000-square-foot building at 2127 Athens Highway that houses the 129 Package Store and a business that stores children’s battery-powered plastic cars, Gainesville Fire Chief Jon Canada said. The building is located across U.S. 129 from a Mack truck dealership and is next to a BP station.

The side of the building containing the toy cars was aflame, with the plastic fueling the fire, Canada said.

Firefighters had the fire in the unoccupied building extinguished within 30 minutes. There were no injuries.

The package store had significant smoke and heat damage and the other side of the building had substantial fire damage. Officials have not yet estimated a dollar figure for the damage.

The cause of the fire, which started inside the portion of the building containing the toy cars, is still under investigation but does not appear suspicious, Canada said.

It was the fifth fire in Gainesville or Hall County since Saturday.

Early Saturday, 10 residents of a small home in Chicopee Village were displaced by an electrical fire. Saturday night, four Biscayne Place residents were burned out from a fire that was started by a faulty electrical outlet.

On Sunday night, a 12,000-square-foot warehouse used by Mar-Jac Poultry off Airport Street burned. The cause of that fire remains under investigation.

On Tuesday morning, a fire started by a faulty microwave oven caused $10,000 in damage at a Dixon Drive home.
Canada said fire departments typically see an uptick in calls during the winter.

While several recent fires have had undetermined causes or been electrical in nature, heating sources are the biggest concerns in the winter, Canada said.

“People need to keep combustibles a minimum of 3 feet from space heaters,” Canada said.

“And as always, check your smoke detectors.”