Fire destroys vacant Yemassee motel

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comFebruary 15, 2012 

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A Yemassee family is assessing damage caused by a fire early Wednesday that destroyed a vacant motel they have owned for nearly 30 years.

The blaze also threatened their nearby scrap-metal business.

Firefighters were called at about 2 a.m. to reports of a fire at the former Golden Crown Motel in the Simco Travel Plaza off Interstate 95, according to Yemassee Fire Chief Justin Lane. The town's volunteer fire crews, which arrived to find flames shooting from the sides of the two-story motel, radioed for help.

More than 75 firefighters from Beaufort, Hampton and Colleton counties battled the fire into Wednesday afternoon, Lane said.

No injuries were reported.

Charlie Simmons, 27, whose family owned the motel, said the fire spread quickly and caused the roof to collapse.

"My brother called me at 2 or 2:30 in the morning, and when we got there, the fire was roaring," Simmons said. "It got into the rooms where people used to stay and destroyed the roof on the back part of the building. It's pretty much a total loss. Everything in those rooms is ruined."

Fire crews beat back the blaze before it spread to Simco Metal Recycling, a scrap-metal and salvage business the family runs on the motel property, Simmons said. The motel has been vacant for years and was used mostly for storage, he said.

Investigators from the S.C. Law Enforcement Division and the Beaufort County Fire Scene Investigation Team have not determined the cause, officials said.

Simmons said that after firefighters have extinguished any remaining hot spots, he and his family will begin sorting through the charred remnants.

"We'll go into some of the rooms and see if there's any metal or anything in there we can salvage," Simmons said. "I'm trying not to frown too much on it. The way I see it, there's no point in dwelling on it. All we can do is look ahead and see what we're going to do next."

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