Milledgeville restaurant back open following weekend fire

Buffington's employees experienced a scary situation early Saturday morning while they were closing down the restaurant.
electrical fire

MILLEDGEVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) — Buffington’s employees experienced a scary situation early Saturday morning while they were closing down the restaurant.

The electrical panel caught fire, and thanks to a quick acting employee, the fire was contained in minutes.

Buffington’s owner Mike Hufstetler says a lot of things went right that morning, and he’s thankful the situation wasn’t much worse.

“Luckily the fire department showed up and did their job in a very timely fashion, or we would have been a total loss,” he said.

He says his staff was cleaning up for the next day when the lights flickered. One of them then ran to the basement and saw the electrical panel on fire. Hufstetler says if no one was there to call 911, the building could have been a total loss.

“This place is 200 years old,” he said. “It’s built out of hard pine. If that hard pine had caught fire, I’m not sure where it might have stopped. We might have burned down our neighbors’ buildings along with ours. This whole block is over 200 years old, so we were blessed. We were really lucky it happened when it did.”

David Ussery, the Battalion Chief for the Milledgeville Fire Department, says they were dispatched to Buffington’s at 2 a.m. on Saturday and got to the scene in a minute and a half.

Chief Ussery says the person who called was extremely detailed about where the fire was. That allowed them to create a plan before they got on scene. The first thing they did was shut off power and gas, and then they put the flames out.

“We located the fire, extinguished it and everything just went really smoothly,” he said.

Milledgeville Fire conducts pre-fire planning at commercial structures. It just so happens that the pre-fire planning for Buffington’s happened last week.

“This scene could have been a lot worse, but because we had enough personnel, we had early detection, and we had pre-fire planning, there were no injuries,” Ussery said.

Hufstetler says the community helped get his business up and running again. Baxley Electric Company and Lowe’s Electrical helped replace the electrical panel on Saturday.

“I didn’t even think the work would start until Monday at the earliest,” he said. “I can’t be thankful enough for those guys coming in and working the way they did.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. The Milledgeville Fire Department believes the fire started due to a malfunction within the electrical panel. Buffington’s plans to install a fire alarm in case of another fire in the future.

Categories: Baldwin County, Featured, Local News, WMGT