Updated at 8 a.m. Saturday
A cell tower will be taken down that caught fire in unincorporated Lilburn near the corner of Rockbridge and Lilburn-Stone Mountain roads Friday afternoon.
Firefighters were on the scene until about 6:30 p.m. Friday, when the fire was considered to be out and power was cut to the tower, said Tommy Rutledge, spokesman for the Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services.
A contracting company was welding on the tower, and that seems to have sparked the fire, which burned along the transmisison cables that run up the tower, Rutledge said.
The tower rises above a daycare center, and the children were evacuated to a nearby Ingles parking lot. There's also a gas station on the corner in front of the tower. Rockbridge Road was closed until about 6:30.
Firefighters on the scene and could be seen spraying the bottom of the tower at about 4 p.m. Fire and smoke engulfed roughly the top part of the tower, and the upper portion seemed to be bent and leaning slightly.
Firefighters established a collapse zone just in case the tower came down.
About 20 children were evacuated from Education Station Daycare, and the owner and teachers said it was frightening experience. Owner Celeste Ginyard said the children at first went to a nearby playground, as they had practiced in fire drills.
"It began to crackle and make a lot of noise," she said. "As it leaned, that's when I said we've got to get out of here." Within five minutes, staff members had the children, including five infants, in vans and buses, headed away from the site.
"I'm so glad we practiced," she said. "The kids are really what made it easy" although a few were scared.