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State fire marshal investigating cause of Register Town Hall fire
Bulloch chief: Officials not ruling out arson
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A fire reported early Sunday morning completely destroyed the Register Town Hall off Cypress Lake Road. The state fire marshal will return today to continue an investigation into the cause of the blaze. - photo by EDDIE LEDBETTER/staff

The state fire marshal will return today to continue an investigation of the early-morning blaze that destroyed the Register Town Hall.

In the meantime, town officials are scrambling to stock the community building as a temporary place to conduct town business.

Bulloch County fire Chief Christopher Ivey said the cause of the fire is yet unknown, but he isn't ruling out arson. He isn't ruling out other causes such as faulty electrical wiring, either.

"It can go either way," he said.

The person who first called 911 to report the fire told dispatchers the fire "could be electrical," said Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn. He didn't say why that person felt the fire was caused by electrical issues.

The call came in around 3:50 a.m. Sunday morning. Ivey said the small wood-frame building was totally destroyed.

Register Mayor Barbara Rushing said most records were saved because over the past few months, they had been transferred to storage elsewhere. The records lost were only those for the past few weeks.

"We were up to date until March," she said. "We were fortunate to have just sent in our taxes to the accountant."

Ivey met with the state fire marshal Monday, but the investigation was not completed, so the fire marshal will return today, he said.

"A fire is devastating and can destroy a lot of evidence," Wynn said.

Rushing and other town employees were out shopping for new computers and office supplies Monday. She and others, including volunteers, have set up a temporary town hall site in the Register Community Building on Main Street, she said.

The tiny town hall building was actually an old one-room school house. It was moved from Pooler to Statesboro, where it was located at the National Guard Armory site, then to Register in the late 1990s, she said.

The building was situated on a hill off Cypress Lake Road, at the spot where the old Register school gym burned to the ground years ago in an act of arson.

"Somebody was just talking about that Sunday," Ivey said Monday.

The fire remains under investigation by the Bulloch County Fire Department and the state fire marshal's office, he said. Anyone with information about the fire is asked to call Ivey at (912) 489-1661.

Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.



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