Wednesday, March 6, 2013
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has joined the investigation into Sunday’s fire that destroyed the James W. Smith Real Estate office that has been in Litchfield since 1989.
Midway Fire Rescue Chief Doug Eggiman said Tuesday calling the state for help does not necessarily mean arson is suspected but nothing has been ruled out.
No specific cause of the fire was determined by local investigators who started sorting through the ashes after the three-alarm-fire was finally extinguished Sunday.
Eggiman said when the cause of the fire was undetermined, SLED was asked to assist.
“We did not find any sort of smoking gun, so to speak. But given the volume of the fire and the commercial occupancy, we felt it was good to reach out to them,” Eggiman said, adding SLED has a wider selection of resources to use during investigations than are available to local fire agencies.
Eggiman said he feels seeking state help was appropriate, especially since the fire occurred less than a day after someone attempted to break into the Lachicotte Company, another real estate office located at 10554 Ocean Highway.
In that incident, which occurred Saturday morning, someone used a flower pot to try to break in through a back window. However, one of the windows that was hit is double-paned and did not break. There was blood found on the outside of the window and a bucket of white paint was thrown on an adjacent door.
SLED has not yet released any information about its investigation.
Sunday’s fire was reported at around 2:45 a.m., according to Midway Fire spokesman Bob Beebe.
The building — two stories and an attic — was destroyed.
Crews from Georgetown County, Georgetown City, Murrells Inlet-Garden City Fire, Surfside Fire and Horry County Fire assisted with the call.
Eggiman said at least 45 firefighters were on the scene.
The company has relocated its office to 113 Willbrook Ave., next to the Piggly Wiggly in Litchfield.
By Scott Harper