• Wednesday, September 25, 2013

This is the scene at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Photo by Chris Sokoloski


Crowds gathered in shock as they watched history burn on Front Street this morning.
A fire that began in the upstairs portion Limp’n Janes restaurant in the 700 block of Front Street quickly spread to buildings on both sides.
The businesses impacted are Goudelock & Co, Limp’n Janes, Doodlebugs, Zest, Buzz’s Roost, Boardwalk Markette, Harborwalk Books, Colonial Floral Fascinations, and the S.C. Maritime Museum.
Sam Hodge, the county emergency manager, said the fire was reported at 5:23 a.m.
He said when firefighters arrived within four minutes there were heavy flames shooting from the buildings as the blaze traveled the attics of the historic structures.
City Fire Chief Joey Tanner said before firefighters could begin working to fight the fire, they had to help save lives.
“There were three victims trapped on a second floor,” Tanner said. Crews worked to get them down. “There were people running from the buildings.”
By 10 a.m., everyone was accounted for.
While there were no serious injuries, two firefighters were slightly hurt because of an explosion.
Tanner said after crews arrived there was an explosion in the second floor of the Limp’n Janes building which sent bricks and glass flying onto Front Street. He said two firefighters were knocked to the ground but are OK.
He said the biggest flames were from the rear of the buildings, which is where the biggest firefighting effort took place initially.
As they were working, Tow Boat U.S. was towing ten boats that were docked behind the businesses. The heat had caused damage to some of those boats.
The fire did damage the upstairs portion of the S.C. Maritime Museum but the museum area itself was spared, Tanner said.
More than  100 firefighters and support personnel converged on Front Street to help fight the fire.
By 9 a.m., the fire was classified as “contained” by Tanner.
“We have no idea what started the fire,” Tanner said.
He said structural engineers will conduct tests in the  in the 700 block that were not burned to make sure they are safe to occupy.
Tanner said the cause of the explosions is unknown but SCE&G is helping to determine if it was possibly a gas line.
During the height of the firefighting efforts, water to the Maryville area had to be reduced to keep adequate water pressure for firefighters.
Right now the water tank next to City Hall is out of service. If that caused the need to reduce the amount of water to Maryville is unknown.
Mayor Jack Scoville said “it’s obvious” there needs to be more water in the city in order to make sure water service is not disrupted in the future during such events.
People have been posting comments about the fires on the Georgetown Times Facebook page all day.
“This is horrible. So sad. Continuing in prayer for all affected,” wrote Chip Rigsbee.
Helen Marie Baylor wrote: “This is so sad to see this in your old hometown. I walked this streets so many time when I was young.”
Georgetown City Councilman Paige Sawyer said “it's a sad day in Georgetown” as a number of restaurants and retail stores were burned to the ground.”
He said many restaurant workers lost their jobs and ten people who lived in the impacted upstairs apartments are out of a home.
“If you have any clothing, please consider making a donation to the families.  They lost everything they had except for what they're wearing,” Sawyer said.
The Salvation Army and the American Red Cross have been on the scene supplying food and water for the emergency workers.


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