Fire Guts Historic Georgia Theatre

ATHENS, Ga. --

A major fire heavily damaged the Georgia Theatre in downtown Athens Friday morning.

The fire broke out at the historic Georgia Theatre about 7 a.m., according to the Athens-Clarke County Fire Department.

News Chopper 2 was over the scene Friday morning and video showed firefighters on cherry-pickers pouring water onto the theater. Most of the roof had collapsed and the interior appeared to be a total loss with only exterior walls still standing.

Much of the downtown Athens area was without power because of the fire and lightning strikes Thursday night.

The Athens Police Department is asking citizens to stay out of the downtown business district until the fire is contained.

Streets in downtown Athens including Lumpkin, Washington, Clayton were closed.

The theater is a converted movie theater in the 200 block of Lumpkin Street that is now a popular concert venue.

It has hosted concerts by popular Georgia bands and performers such as R.E.M., Widespread Panic, Sugarland, Jupiter Coyote, the Zac Brown Band, Col. Bruce Hampton, Blueground Undergrass and the Dereck Trucks Band. Friday night, Athens-based Perpetual Groove was scheduled to play.

In 2008 national touring acts such as the North Mississippi All-Stars, Galactic, Robert Earl Keen, Sister Hazel and Ghostface Killah played at the Georgia Theatre.

Singer John Mayer shot his first music video there.

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