The iconic In-n-Out convenience store at 4233 Thurman Road caught fire around 4 p.m. Tuesday, sending a thick column of smoke into the sky and shutting down traffic in both directions for hours.
No one on scene was authorized to speak to the media about the number of alarms or any injuries. Efforts to contact city and county fire officials were unsuccessful.
Forest Park Fire had three engines and Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services had two on scene.
At one point, a series of small explosions could be heard from inside the structure.
Gloria Katherine Burnett watched with sadness from across the road. She had worked as a cashier at the store about three years ago and said it was more than just a little grocery store.
“People came and got their groceries, play their numbers… it was a friendly little mom and pop store and now it’s just gone,” Burnett said. “It’s tragic. It’s just too much for me.”
She said In-n-Out was convenient for local residents and that she had met most of her neighbors there.
One man stood watching as a tear ran down his cheek. Another man said he worked there but added nothing more as he watched firefighters train two streams of water on the left side of the building. Burnett said that was where the groceries and charcoal were.
CERT volunteers roared up to the scene shortly after 6 p.m. with cold sports drinks for firefighters, who worked in shifts. Crews beat down the flames on one side, then the other, only to see the previous areas pop up again. At least four hoses were trained on the structure. A large number of blue propane tanks that had been removed from the cage out front were lined up about ten yards from the building.
Three ambulances stood by and Forest Park Police blocked off Thurman Road in both directions. A post to the city’s Facebook page warned people to avoid the area.
The Georgia Secretary of State’s online business filings show In n Out Group, LLC was administratively dissolved on August 24, 2017. Zeeshan Thobhani is listed as the registered agent.
The building is owned by Kinh Enterprises Inc., whose sole partner is Ashraf Thobhani, according to online county real estate records.
Other businesses associated with the address include Aiza Enterprises, Inc., owned by Naeem Thobhani and administratively dissolved on December 31, 2015; KNZS Enterprises, Inc., owned by Naeem Thobhani and administratively dissolved September 2, 2012; Naeem, Inc., owned by Ashraf Thobhani and administratively dissolved December 7, 2016.
The family owns several more businesses at other locations in the immediate area.