Fire damages boats at Sugarloaf Mills Bass Pro Shops, sends smoke over I-85

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No one was hurt

An after-hours fire at a Gwinnett County mall Thursday night damaged several fishing boats contained in a storage area.

The blaze spread to four bass fishing boats and trailers in the parking lot of Bass Pro Shops at Sugarloaf Mills but did not extend to the mall itself, according to Gwinnett fire officials. While crews worked to assess the situation, the mall was evacuated.

The fire was first reported about 10:15 p.m., a little over an hour after shops had closed for the night. The caller told dispatchers two boats were on fire against the Bass Pro building, department spokesman Capt. Tommy Rutledge said.

Crews were on scene within five minutes and found heavy smoke and flames. Some of the crews worked to control the blaze, and Rutledge said others went to check for fire inside the building and on the roof.

As they worked, water and firefighting foam sent thick smoke across nearby I-85, he said. Anyone still inside the mall was evacuated until about 10:35 p.m., when the situation was declared under control.

“There was no extension found inside the building or on the roof,” Rutlegde said in a news release. “Mall security confirmed that no smoke or fire entered the actual mall.”

Gwinnett’s hazardous material team was also asked to check for potential runoff in a nearby storm drain but found nothing significant, he said. No one was reported injured.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but investigators found that it started in one of the boats and spread to the other three.

“The damaged boats were all customer-owned and were reportedly at the shop for repairs,” Rutledge said.

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