A 40-year-old institution along Georgia Highways 19-41 a half-mile south of the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton burned just before midnight Tuesday and is most likely a complete loss.
Henry County Fire Chief Bill Lacy said Wednesday a cause has not been determined. Based on an interview with a neighbor, however, the violent weather had passed long before Sweetie’s Flea Market caught fire.
“It will take us a long time to investigate,” Lacy said. “It will be difficult to determine a cause.”
Lacy said the main building, which burned, “had a lot of stuff in it” that provided fuel. The fire did not spread to surrounding sheds and structures.
Sweetie’s had been beside 19-41 between the race track and Griffin for more than 40 years.
The main building was surrounded by tents and rickety wooden structures. Some vendors simply displayed their products on makeshift tables without shelter or lined them up beside the busy road.
Sweeties has 19 rules for its markets, including sellers must wear shirts, shoes and pants, and drugs or drug paraphernalia was not allowed.
“Sweeties Flea Market reserves the right to refuse admission to any seller and to inspect all merchandise,” according to the rules posted on the Sweetie’s Web site. “We also reserve the right to disallow merchandise to be sold or displayed even if not mentioned above. If you are found breaking ANY of these rules, you will NOT receive a refund! OUR JUDGEMENT IS FINAL!!!”
At least two of the three owners were at the location Wednesday trying to clean the area. They declined to comment until their insurance issues had been resolved.
Photographer John Spink contributed to this article.
About the Author