BAMBERG COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Investigators are still trying to find out what caused a fire right in the middle of downtown Bamberg late Tuesday night.
Officials say a number of buildings caught fire just before 10 p.m. on Main Highway. Fire crews worked for several hours before putting out the flames Wednesday morning.
“As soon as we pulled up on scene, we knew we had to have more help,” Bamberg County Fire Chief Timmie Taylor said.
Taylor said there were six departments in total helping put out the flames.
“This is the nightmare we’d been hoping wouldn’t happen, but it did happen,” Taylor said.
Fire officials said the fire started in an antique shop. They said one building collapsed, and another had to be torn down.
Buzzy Bunch watched as the flames devoured the buildings.
“Intense flames, reaching 40, 50 feet above those buildings, but you could have your eyes closed and know it was a fire,” he said. You could hear it you could feel it.”
“I was up here last night when it was burning,” said Bamberg Mayor Nancy Foster. “I thought the whole town was going.”
WIS spoke with Steve Leninski, the owner of the buildings that went up in flames. He said one of the buildings was his antique store, Polo Antiques, with about $100,000 dollars’ worth of antiques inside.
“It’s a disaster but what are you going to do?” Leninski said.
As a Holocaust survivor, he said he’s seen worse than this. He said that’s how he’s able to stay so cheerful in the face of a disaster.
“I was in Berlin for the second World War, when they bombed Berlin, he said. “It burned from one end to the other. This reminds me of Berlin.”
At this time, SLED is involved in the cleanup process.
WIS asked the Bamberg County Fire Chief if this is a typical protocol. He said he couldn’t answer that question. WIS is waiting to hear back from SLED.
No injuries have been reported. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.\
As for what’s next for the property, Leninski says he’s already thinking about donating the land to the town, with hopes maybe a park will be built.
“It’s done, it’s gone, you got to keep going,” Leninski said. “You don’t stop. I’m not going to cry over it.”