Front Street fire top story of 2013

  • Monday, December 30, 2013

  • Updated Friday, January 3, 2014 9:13 am

This photo from Midway Fire Rescue shows the severity of the fire.

It was a day that will be remembered. Sept, 25, 2013.

That was the day a big piece of Georgetown's history went up in flames.

In the pre-dawn hours, a fire that began on the back deck of Limpin' Janes restaurant in the 700 block of Front Street quickly spread to buildings on both sides.

The businesses impacted are Goudelock & Co, Limpin' 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.

More than 100 firefighters and support personnel converged on Front Street to help fight the fire.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division launched an investigation and later reported their findings about the origin of the fire were “undetermined.”

The SLED report states Brian Shepler, owner of Limpin' Janes, said the restaurant was closed the previous day, Sept. 24, and he and some friends were refinishing some tables in the business. Shepler said they were using linseed oil to do the job.

He said he threw the containers of oil in the trash and the bag was located in the same area where the fire originated.

After the fire, a Front Street Fire Relief Fund was established which raised more than $200,000.

Al Joseph, chairman of the Georgetown Business Association said the groups that have received the funds are the employees who were suddenly without a job because of the fire, the owners of the businesses who needed assistance and the residents who lived in the second floor apartments.

Joseph noted that five of the businesses have reopened in new locations. All but one relocated to another building on or near Front Street.

The exception is Limpin' Janes. The owners have moved to Beaufort and are expected to open a new restaurant, according to the Beaufort Gazette.

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