Beaufort News

Insurance review of Port Royal seafood market nearly done; shrimp operations could lag

Photographed July 20, 2015, an empty burnt-out shell is all that remains of the Port Royal seafood market. Investigators have ruled out arson as the cause of the fire that ripped through the building July 19 and forced one of the area's most popular restaurants, 11th Street Dockside, to close indefinitely. The fire started in the market and grew between the first and second floors in the market's back corner, Beaufort-Port Royal Fire Department Capt. John Robinson said.
Photographed July 20, 2015, an empty burnt-out shell is all that remains of the Port Royal seafood market. Investigators have ruled out arson as the cause of the fire that ripped through the building July 19 and forced one of the area's most popular restaurants, 11th Street Dockside, to close indefinitely. The fire started in the market and grew between the first and second floors in the market's back corner, Beaufort-Port Royal Fire Department Capt. John Robinson said. jkarr@islandpacket.com

Decisions on who owes what related to the July 19 Port Royal fire should be made by the end of the month, allowing the seafood market lost in the blaze to be demolished.

Operations at the town's shrimp docks could take longer to return to normal.

Insurance adjusters are scheduled to meet Oct. 28 to put a final stamp on the fire's cause and claims, Port Royal town manager Van Willis said Tuesday.

"Hopefully that will satisfy everybody's interests, and we can move on with the demolition," Willis said.

The S.C. Ports Authority owns and insures the building and will oversee its demolition. The town had insured the contents, including some equipment purchased in the last year or so as the town prepared to sell seafood from the front of the market.

Operations at the town's shrimp docks halted after the fire. Electricity has been restored to the docks and a fuel line repaired, but the ice machine necessary to continue processing shrimp catches can't be purchased without the insurance check, Willis said. The machine costs $25,000.

Willis said the ice machine would probably be installed somewhere outside since the Ports Authority is hesitant to allow the machine inside a building.

"That's too much of a cost for us to bear up front," Willis said.

The Ports Authority allowed the town to set up in a building adjacent to the market, where the administrative office is now functional.

The market building, located at the end of 11th Street near the shrimp docks on Battery Creek, caught fire early morning July 19. Investigators ruled out arson but could not rule out an electrical issue.

An adjacent warehouse was damaged and the 11th Street Dockside restaurant closed after the blaze. Dockside owner Tom Oliva was hesitant to invest in reopening the restaurant without a longterm lease, which the Ports Authority has not granted while its 317-acre Port Royal property is for sale.

The town leases the docks from the Ports Authority, collects rent from shrimpers and sells them ice and fuel. Shrimpers and fishermen sold their catch to the town, which began selling it in its seafood market only a couple of weeks before the blaze.

Follow reporter Stephen Fastenau at twitter.com/IPBG_Stephen.

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