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Roof collapse slows investigation into flea market fire
60 damaged booths off limits until fire marshal's report is finalized
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A collapsed roof is keeping fire officials from determining the cause of an early Sunday blaze at the Pendergrass Flea Market.

"We just can't get in to find a point of origin," said Georgia Office of Insurance spokesman Matt Kilgallen.

As vendors gathered at the Jackson County flea market Monday morning, hoping to survey the damage to their booths, a burnt smell still hung in the air.

Until the fire marshal's report is finalized, the 60 damaged booths are off limits, market manager Sheila Underwood said.

"We've all got compassion for the vendors and we want to do everything we can to help them and to get them relocated in the market," she said.

No one was hurt in the blaze, which the Jefferson Fire Department responded to at about 12:50 a.m. Sunday. It took responders about two hours to put out the fire, which was contained to the back section of the complex at 5641 U.S. 129 North, according to Capt. Darrell Chaisson.

Chaisson said it may be a few weeks until the cause of the fire is determined. Market staff said a dollar amount has not been put on the damage.

"The area that was affected is completely destroyed, completely destroyed," general manager Ernest Espinel said.

Espinel said much of the market will need to be cleaned of smoke damage. Still, the market's managers are expecting to be open this weekend.