AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Augusta fire crews battled flames this morning at Macaroni Grill near the Augusta Exchange, on Wheeler Road and Robert C. Daniels Parkway. The fire started just after 1am the building was under flames for more than five hours. Fire crews had to shut down Wheeler Road for several hours as they worked to get the flames under control. Crews were able to stop the flames in the early afternoon.
"This will go into another shift. I say lunch time or a little after," said Brian McFeely, Battalion Chief with the Augusta Fire. "There's a lot of spot up work to do here. We've been flowing water on it with these aerial ladder at the rate of three thousand gallons a minute since about two o'clock."
The fire department said the restaurant is a total loss and the cause of the fire has not been determined yet.
The flames are out, but now many folks are left without a job.
"I woke up at 7:30 about 45 minutes ago to a text from my buddy from work asking me if I had heard what happened," said Austin Purkey, bartender and server at Romano's Macaroni Grill.
Not the morning any employee looks forward to.
"I just did a quick walk around the place I was trying to look through the windows and stuff. I can't even see the bar anymore," said Purkey.
Austin Purkey had been working at Macaroni Grill since early November as a bartender and server. He said he never thought he would witness something like this.
"I couldn't see the tables from the dining room from outside looking through it was just a bunch of rubble, never thought it'll look like that," said Purkey.
Now this is what's left of the restaurant. And it appears to be a total loss. But the biggest question for employees right now is what will happen next?
"Been worrying about jobs for everybody I work with," Purkey said. "My management, they're all good people so I hope everything works out for everybody here."
Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA is offering assistance to the restaurant's displaced employees. Displaced Macaroni Grill employees can call Goodwill Human Resources Generalist Kerri King at (706) 650 - 5760 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Augusta Goodwill Job Connection is located on 3179 Washington Road at Fury's Ferry Road.