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Firefighters battle Lawrenceville business blaze

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A firefighter on a ladder truck assists in putting out a fire Monday in Lawrenceville.

Special Photo A firefighter on a ladder truck assists in putting out a fire Monday in Lawrenceville.

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Special Photo Firefighters and police respond after a fire broke out in downtown Lawrenceville on Monday.

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Special Photo Firefighters inspect the area in front of AfricArt after a fire broke out in downtown Lawrenceville on Monday.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Firefighters responded to downtown Lawrenceville early Monday afternoon to battle a blaze that snarled lunchtime traffic.

According to a news release from Gwinnett County Fire, firefighters were dispatched to 162 E. Crogan St., at 12:10 p.m. after a business owner called 911, reporting that he saw smoke and fire coming up from the basement.

The fire was beneath several businesses, including Sparkle Designs, AfricArt and Lawrence Design Group.

Upon arrival at 12:17 p.m., firefighters found "heavy smoke conditions in the basement level of the business, which shares adjoining walls with several other businesses on the street," said Lt. Colin Rhoden.

"Crews initially had difficulty reaching the area where the fire originated," Rhoden said. "Crews also lost water pressure early during the fire incident."

After reestablishing a new water supply, more crews arrived to help. Crews entered the business from the basement level and were faced with heavy smoke and a sprinkler system that had filled the lower level of the building with water.

Rhoden said the issue of heavy smoke and the water-filled basement "made finding the fire more complex."

While battling the blaze, part of the ceiling collapsed on a firefighter. Rhoden said the firefighter and his crew "were removed from the building, assessed at the scene by firefighter/paramedics and released to continue the fire attack duties."