Fire destroyed the Long John Silver’s restaurant at 1281 Thompson Bridge Road Saturday afternoon.
“The building is a total loss,” Gainesville Fire Chief Jon Canada said.
When firefighters arrived, Canada said smoke was showing from the entrance side of the restaurant as well as the eaves and roof.
Flames broke through the roof, which began collapsing inward, he said.
Firefighters set up a defensive attack with two ladder trucks, Canada said. He said crews were able to knock down the fire just before 4 p.m.
Two employees and a customer exited the restaurant when the fire was discovered, Canada said. There were no injuries to firefighters.
Noting Saturday afternoon’s temperatures in the mid-80s, Canada said, “When it’s hot, we set up stations for our folks to keep them hydrated and check their vital (signs).”
Heavy traffic and the need to reach hydrants and lay hoses caused both lanes of northbound traffic to be closed on Thompson Bridge Road. When the northbound lanes could be opened, southbound traffic was rerouted into the northbound lanes. Heavy smoke, causing zero visibility, eventually forced a complete shutdown of the road, rerouting traffic onto Enota Avenue.
Traffic was flowing again in both directions on Thompson Bridge Road by 4 p.m., with the Gainesville Police Department continuing to direct motorists. Canada reported the fire was extinguished and Thompson Bridge Road was back open by 6:30 p.m.
Firefighters planned to conduct a full search of the restaurant.
“It’s going to take a while, digging through the rubble,” Canada said.
“The fire marshal’s office determined the cause of the fire was careless smoking, an improperly discarded cigarette,” Canada said.